Tôm Rim Poached Shrimp – 304 of 365

Shrimp and Strange Sauce

Café 91 in Binh Thanh District came to the rescue yet again with a seafood dish I had never seen before.  Everytime I wonder how on earth am I going to make it to 365 meals, along comes a new one like clockwork.  That’s what I love about Vietnam…the variety of food seems endless.

With my choices narrowed down to hard boiled eggs and some sort of pork product and a most interesting shrimp coagulating in a funky sauce, the ocean going craziness won.  What if I broke into that egg and some sort of duck fetus popped out?  Yes, these are the things I worry about when eating over here.  I figured with shrimp what we see is what we get.

I just never know what the proper protocol is for eating Vietnamese shrimp.  In Hanoi they eat the shells.  Down here in Saigon it seems hit or miss.  And the shrimp aren’t just the garden variety boil and peel American type.  No, these come slathered in oily sauces that wreak havoc upon fingers, and the shells adhere to the overcooked meat like super glue.  Experience has allowed me to become quite adept as holding one down with a fork and peeling away the shell with the edge of a spoon though.

The goopy brown sauce tastes much like shrimp on steroids so I can only assume it’s the head and other assorted parts mashed up and made into a paste.  Part of me wanted to know.  Part of me just wanted to eat it and let the gelatinous sauce remain shrouded in its fragrant mystique.

The good folks at the front desk of my apartment building identified this as tôm rim, which loosely translates as poached shrimp.  I am not sold on this as a proper name but let’s just go with it.  Perhaps they were just trying to protect my fragile westerness from what really lurks inside that salty brown sauce.  Who knows?  In any case, new finds such as this one are what this food journey is all about.  What’s in a name anyhow?  The presentation and taste no matter what they are called shall forever be part of my Saigon memories now.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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