I came across a really interesting Vietnamese recipe for chao tom, which wraps shrimp paste around sugarcane sticks. Unfortunately, shrimp paste doesn't seem to titillate my family's taste buds as it does mine. Sigh.
So, I tried it with ground beef instead, my "white boy" version. No doubt the shrimp is better. Or even ground chicken. Still, the sweetness imparted onto the ground beef was tasty and welcome. The sugarcane flavor was subtle, but certainly present. (For a more intense flavor, simply bite into a piece of the sugarcane, and suck out the sugar juices.)
- One 12-inch piece sugarcane, peeled
- 1 Pound ground beef
- 1 medium-sized shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 Teaspoons sambal oelek
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon black pepper
- Sriracha, for garnish
- Cilantro, for garnish
Cut the sugarcane in half crosswise, so you have two 6-inch pieces. Now cut each piece into 6 sticks (should be at least ¼-inch in diameter). You should now have about a dozen sugarcane sticks.
Using your hands, mix together the beef, shallot, garlic, oil, eggs, sambal oelek, salt, and pepper in a bowl until very gooey. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Then mold the beef "paste" over each sugarcane stick, leaving about 2 inches of each stick exposed so you can grab each piece with your fingers.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and pan-fry the sugarcane "drumsticks," rotating while cooking, until well browned on all sides and cooked through. Garnish with Sriracha and cilantro.