Tôm Đồng Nướng Barbecue Prawns – 303 of 365

Tôm Đồng Nướng

My friend Allie and I stopped by Hong Luyen in Hanoi’s Tay Ho neighborhood on the lake for some seafood.  I kept trying to order something other than the banh tom fried prawn cakes well known in this area, but the lady was hell bent on steering us towards these deep fried batter blobs with a crustacean in the middle.  Already one meal into the challenge and things are quickly derailing.  Besides, I’ve had these shrimp cakes so many times when I lived in Hanoi and even once before on this food journey.  We need new foods, and lot of them!

I’m thinking do you guys not want our money?  We have a lot of Dong in our pockets looking to be spent.  Give us the tôm đồng nướng barbecue shrimp.  And I am glad we ordered these since they were a nice change from the usual street food suspects.

A Prawn

A large portion of whole prawns with heads, shells, poop chutes and all finally arrived.  Chargrilled shells blackened with whatever scientific process occurs when chitin meets flame were all that stood between us and a good meal.  We soon, however, got the impression Vietnamese people eat the entire cockroach of the sea.  Now I have seen this before here in Tay Ho with much smaller shrimp with even thinner shells and that I can understand.  But these?  These were jumbo sized specimens and the thought of crunching a mouthful of that mess held zero appeal.

We got to work twisting off the heads, peeling off the shells and scraping out the veiny crap tube much to the curiosity of everyone around us.  We could decipher that look…what the hell are these white people doing to those shrimp?  Why are they wasting the best parts?  A woman reached into your debris pile, snatched a head and showed us how to eat one.  We politely declined a demonstration that learning on our part had occurred.  And besides, shouldn’t she pay a pro rata share of our meal now that she had taken a few heads?

The actual prawns were quite good, especially dipped into the salt, pepper and lime juice mix.  Well, one thing is for sure.  I may have skipped the carbs, but I got a gut full of cholesterol and sodium in their place.  But in any case, day one of the challenge came to successful close.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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