The most well-known Hanoi shrimp fritter is West Lake shrimp cake, it’s made of shrimp caught from Hanoi West Lake or the nearby Red River. For many Hanoian today, the West Lake shrimp cake still remind them of their childhood’s big treat!
Vietnam’s large commercial cities were occupied by the French and Spanish during Cochinchina Campaign, a military series of French and Spanish alliance to conquer territories in Southeast Asia during 1858 – 1862. The Vietnamese shrimp fritters originates from the Spanish’s tortillas de camarones (chick pea shrimp fritters).
In Hanoi, shrimp cakes were made with batons of sweet potato and with shell and head on shrimps. As the recipe spread to southern Vietnam where herbs were more abundant, the fritters started bring served with lettuce for wrapping, herb leaves for seasoning, and flavored fish sauce for dipping.
On our Hanoi food tour, we occasionally stop by a humble shrimp cake outlet, joining the locals to sample this Hanoi’s specialty. Interesting enough, many of our travelers were trying head-on shrimps for their first time ever!
If you’re wondering how Hanoian are making their shrimp cake, this article would show you how.
- 1 cup of rice flour
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of water
- ½ tsp of salt
- ½ tsp of sugar
- ½ tsp of turmeric powder
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 lb. (500 grams) of small shrimps
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of pepper
- ½ cup of chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 lb. (500 grams) of sweet potatoes
- 4 cups of cooking oil
Veggies & Sauce
- 1 lettuce head
- 1 cucumber
- 5 sprigs of mint
- 1 small bunch of cilantros
- 1 tsp of vinegar
- ½ cup of fish sauce
- 1 tsp of sugar
Note: Use small shrimps with soft shell, because peeled shrimps become overcooked easily and will turn dry. The shells become crunchy after deep-frying and tastes great!
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of rice flour, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 cups of water, ½ tsp of salt, ½ tsp of sugar, and ½ tsp of turmeric powder, and 2 beaten eggs. Whisk well until smooth and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Remove shrimps’ heads and legs. Season with 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper, ½ cup of chicken bouillon powder, and 1 tsp of garlic powder.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and shred thinly. Soak the shredded sweet potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat 4 cups of cooking oil in a large, deep wok to 350F. place a metal strainer into the batter. Place a handful of sweet potato shreds into the strainer. Add 2 shrimps on top.
- Lower the mold into the hot oil. Wait 1 minute for the batter to bind the sweet potato and shrimp together. Use a wooden spatula to fully submerge the shrimp fritter in the oil. Deep fry for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel. Repeat until all shrimp and batter are finished.
- For the dipping sauce, mix ½ cup of fish sauce, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of vinegar and mix well. Add hot water to adjust sauce to your liking. To prepare veggie garnishes, chop cucumber, 5 sprigs of mint, and cilantro. Use a large lettuce to wrap a shrimp fritter with some of the chopped veggies and dunk into the dipping sauce!
There you go. That’s how to cook Hanoi West Lake shrimp cake for 4 persons, with just about 30 minutes preparation and 30 minutes cooking. We hope you enjoy your cook, and please contact us if there is anything we can help.
If you are a fan of shrimp dish, check out our recipe for caramelized shrimp with pork.