Taro Shrimp Fritters

October 19, 2021
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Photo by Bette Blau. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes 12 fritters
Author Notes

These fritters, aromatic with garlic and turmeric, are a riff on the classic Hà Nội street snack called bánh tôm, in which shrimp or prawns are nestled in a basket of sweet potato, then fried. We swap out the sweet potato for taro here for a slightly different flavor; the taro is also lower in moisture than sweet potato, so the fritters stay crisp longer. You can use any size shrimp, though larger shrimp will be easier to slice and offer a more dramatic presentation than smaller shrimp. While these fritters do indeed make great snacks, you can also turn them into a family-style meal by serving them with a platter of lettuce, herbs, and rice paper wrappers. In either case, you will definitely want to dip these in plenty of nước chấm. If you don’t already have a jar in the fridge, you can easily make the nước chấm in the time it takes for the oil to reach the proper frying temperature. —Red Boat Fish Sauce

Test Kitchen Notes

Excerpted with permission from The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce . © 2021 by Cuong Pham, with Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran. Photography © 2021 by Oriana Koren. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the fritters
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 pound taro, shredded
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced Thai chile, seeds and ribs removed if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Canola, peanut, rice bran, or grapeseed oil, for frying
  • For serving as hors d’oeuvres
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Nước Chấm (see below)
  • For serving as a family-style entrée
  • Lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 bunch mint
  • Perilla leaves
  • Rice paper wrappers
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Nước Chấm (see below)
  • Nước Chấm
  • 1/4 cup Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 2 Thai chiles, seeds and ribs removed if desired, minced
  1. Make the fritters: In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the baking soda and salt in 2 cups water. Add the shrimp and let them sit in the brine in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the taro, tapioca starch, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, chile, turmeric, and ¼ cup water in a bowl. Mix the ingredients to create a thin batter, then set aside.
  3. Drain the shrimp, then dry between paper towels. Set aside 6 of the plumpest shrimp and mince the remaining ones. Combine the minced shrimp with the batter. Stir to coat all the ingredients, then place the bowl in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fry.
  4. Halve the 6 reserved shrimp lengthwise. Put in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to fry.
  5. Fry the fritters: If not serving right away, heat the oven to 150°F.
  6. Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet or pot with 2 inches of oil. (Choose a skillet or pot that is at least 4 inches high, so that there is at least 2 inches of clearance from the top of the oil and the lip of the pan.)
  7. Heat the oil to 325°F on a deep-fry thermometer. When it reaches temperature, pour ¼ cup of the fritter batter into a wide, shallow metal ladle. Press a halved shrimp onto the top of the fritter. Gently slip the fritter into the oil. Fry on each side for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden and crisp. While frying, keep an eye on the temperature of the oil: It shouldn’t go above 325°F, nor drop below 300°F. Fry the fritters in batches to help stabilize the oil’s temperature, about 3 fritters at a time, and wait for the oil to return to 325°F between each batch.
  8. Once the fritters are golden, remove them from the oil and let drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. If not serving immediately, place the rack in a warm oven to keep the fritters hot and crisp. Serve with nước chấm and, if serving family style, lettuce, herbs, and rice paper wrappers.
  9. Nước Chấm: Combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 1 cup water to a small sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil.
  10. Take the pot off the flame and add minced garlic and chiles.
  11. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. The nước chấm can be stored, covered, in the fridge for at least 1 week.

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