To me, comfort food consists of simple, everyday dishes my family grew up eating. Uncomplicated Vietnamese dishes really…. but packed with flavor—and memories.
They included braised bamboo shoots, sauteed greens in shrimp paste, beef stir fry with potatoes, and if we were lucky–fried shrimp.
Depending on Mom’s mood—meaning if she was in the mood of peeling the shrimp or not, we would be treated to either Tôm Lăn Bột (batter fried shrimp) or Tôm Rang Muối (salted fried shrimp). Either way–I LOVED both dishes.
Tôm Lăn Bột are peeled headless shrimp, dipped into a batter, and then fried until golden brown. Tôm Rang Muối are head-on shrimp that are tossed into salt and flour (or cornstarch) and quickly fried. Since the shrimp are left with their shells on, they retain a lot of their moisture and add great texture. And the bonus—you get to suck the deliciousness from the heads!
Mom and the aunties would often make Tôm Rang Muối at our family parties, too. Since it’s so quick to make, they would whip up several batches to tie us over before we got to eat. Big plates of Tôm Rang Muối would also get sent over to wherever the “menfolk” were sitting to “nhậu“—-which is the Vietnamese word for drinking adult beverages while nibbling on food.
I’m sure my mom would scold me for broadcasting this but THANK BUDDHA that I can nhậu now, too! :)
Hope you enjoy!
Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)
1 Pound Prawns, heads-on
1 Cup Rice Flour (or cornstarch, tempura powder, etc.)
1½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Red Chili Pepper, sliced
¼ Cup Green Scallions, sliced
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Devein the prawns while keeping the shells in tact. This can be done by using a sharp knife to slice the backs of the prawns. Remove and discard the veins. Using kitchen shears, snip off the antennas and legs. Place the prawns in a colander and run cool water over them. Gently shake to drain the water and use paper towels to dry off excess moisture. Sprinkle salt over the prawns, tossing well to cover each prawn. Place the colander with prawns (with a bowl underneath to catch any excess fluid) in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
In a large pot (or deep fryer), preheat oil to 375 degrees.
Remove prawns from the refrigerator and sprinkle rice flour all over. Toss the prawns to coat and sift to get rid of any extra flour. In batches, carefully add the prawns into the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer the fried prawns to a paper towel lined plate. When the grease has been drained, gently toss the prawns with scallions and chilies. Serve immediately.
**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #17 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Phuoc from Phuoc’n’delicious for hosting this month!**