• Sugarcane prawns {Chaọ tôm) (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

Prawn on the barbie, Vietnamese-style. Expect your pork and prawn mixture to have a similar bouncy texture to that of a fish cake before wrapping it around your sugarcane ready for grilling. Food Safari Water






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (24 votes)


  • 2 kg banana prawns, peeled and deveined (see note)
  • 100 g pork fat
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic 
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • splash of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 length fresh sugarcane

Nuoc cham  

  • 50 g castor sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce  
  • 30 ml warm water

To serve

  • Spring onion oil (see note) 
  • Crushed roasted peanuts
  • Banh hoi (see note)
  • Fried shallots
  • Mint, shiso, rice paddy herb
  • Lettuce or mustard leaf, for wrapping

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: 2 hr

Pat dry the prawns with paper towel. Coarsely mince the prawns and pork fat, place in a large bowl and combine well.

Pound the garlic to a fine paste in a mortar and pestle and add to the prawn mixture. Add the cornflour, white pepper, fish sauce and salt and mix well by hand until evenly combined. Slap the mixture onto the side of the bowl for about 5-10 minutes to work the proteins. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, for the nuoc cham, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Chop the sugar cane into 4 even lengths, then peel each piece and split vertically into 8 pieces. Using lightly oiled hands, shape ¼ cupfuls prawn mixture around each sugarcane stick.

Cook the sugar cane prawns over a preheated charcoal barbecue, turning regularly for 8-10 minutes or until just cooked through.

To serve, spoon a little spring onion oil over the top of the sugarcane prawns and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Sprinkle the banh hoi with the fried shallots. Wrap the skewers, herbs and banh hoi in a mustard or lettuce leaf and dip in the nuoc cham.

• Dai keeps the prawn heads to make prawn oil or fry as a snack.

• To make spring onion oil, pour warm vegetable oil over thinly sliced spring onions and stand until cool.

• Bahn hoi are pressed fresh rice vermicelli noodles. Available from Asian grocers.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Belinda So.

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