Bắp Xào Tôm Corn Cakes and Shrimp – 261 of 365

Bắp Xào Tôm

Towards the end of one of my three hour walks I passed a pushcart on Ngo Tat To Street in Binh Thanh District that seemed to be the hottest drive through in town.  Several motorbikes were jockeying for position on the already limited sidewalk real estate and thus blocking my passage. If you can’t beat them you might as well joint them so I squeezed my giant western self right in there.

The precariously dangling sign hanging off the pushcart told me bắp xào tôm was on offer.  I pieced it together and came up with corn fry shrimp.  Vietnamese is like that.  They just string together a bunch of words to describe the concept whereas we would say a fried corn cake topped with shrimp.  In a nutshell this example of street food at its finest is like a rice cake but more fattening as this one spawned in oil.

Ordering in Vietnamese was going great until the guy asked me a question.  As usual, this is the point when the wheels fall off the bus and it dives head first over the cliff.  I know the guy was thinking this western idiot comes up to me and orders in Vietnamese and then has no idea what I ask back?  So he laid out 10,000; 15,000; and 20,000.  I chose 15 by saying it in Vietnamese and by now this poor guy was totally confused.  I saw his look.  I would say it meant something along the lines of “I know I didn’t just waste my time laying out all this money for this fool and then he knows how to say 15,000 after all.  Oh hell no.”

The premise here is simple.  The hungry can exchange about 75 cents for a dozen corn cakes laid out in a styrofoam base.  Now sprinkle them with spiced up oil.  Toss on some oil marinated green onions along with a most healthy dose of pork floss.  The pig remains are something I shudder at every time.  It’s like they shredded the skin fur and all and dry it out.  Enough said.  Then they add tiny dried shrimp the size of a bloated rice kernel.  A shake of dried red pepper dilutes the pork floss thank god.  It is like some weird Vietnamese version of nachos.

Final verdict?  I love this one shredded pig and all.  Figures.  Of course I’d like something with a million calories, but after a three hour jaunt through Saigon who’s counting calories?

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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