Street vendors sell hot, tasty snacks at events and celebrations around Vietnam. Hungry festival-goers never have to look far for a treat. Shrimp cakes are a favorite that can also be made at home.

Shrimp Cakes

1 lb. fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/4 c. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 medium-sized potato
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil

1. Wash and dry shrimp and place half of them in a food processor or blender. Process until pastelike. Cut the rest of the shrimp in half the long way and set aside.

2. Place flour in a large bowl and gradually stir in water until batter is smooth. Add salt, pepper, and shrimp paste, and stir well.

3. Peel potato and cut into very thin shoestrings. Add to batter and stir.

4. Heat oil over high heat in a wok or a deep saucepan. Place about 2 tbsp. of batter in a ladle or deep serving spoon. Place half a shrimp in the middle of the ladle and carefully drop the batter and shrimp into the hot oil.

5. Fry for about 1 minute and turn over. Fry until batter is golden and shrimp is pink, about 3 minutes.

6. Remove from oil, drain on paper towel, and set aside. Repeat with remaining batter and shrimp and serve with nuoc cham.

Preparation time: 20 to 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 4 to 6

*If you use fresh shrimp for this recipe, you may be able to have it peeled and deveined at the grocery store. Otherwise, you can do it yourself. Hold the shrimp so that the underside is facing you. Starting at the head, use your fingers to peel off the shell from the head toward the tail. Then, using a sharp knife, carefully make a shallow cut all the way down the middle of the back. Hold the shrimp under cold running water to rinse out the dark vein.