The Vietnamese use a small indoor earthen stove fueled with coal set on the table to simmer, boil and barbecue.
I have broiled this dish in an oven, with excellent results.
Sugar cane makes this recipe visually exiting and exotic.
Its sweetness subtly melts into the shrimp paste.
Sugar cane comes fresh and canned in better Asian markets; the former is scarce and very expensive.
Check with the grocery clerk to make certain that you are buying the 6- to 7-inch long stalks, not the cubes.
The recipe serves well as a buffet appetizer or as a first course for a dinner party.
Vegetable oil to oil your hands Three 6-inch long canned sugar cane sections (about 1-inch in diameter) 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into thin slivers 1 cup fresh mint leaves 1 cup fresh coriander leaves Twelve butter or red leaf lettuce leaves Twelve 8-inch round dried rice papers DIPPING SAUCE 4 garlic cloves 2 fresh Serrano chiles 2 tablespoons sugar 6 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc man) 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice 6 to 8 tablespoons water Shell and devein the shrimp.
Toss with salt; let sit for 10 minutes.
Rinse with cold water; drain thoroughly.
In a food processor, finely mince the garlic and shallots.
Add sugar, pepper, toasted rice powder, fish sauce, and shrimp; process into a smooth paste.
With the machine running, pour the ice water through the feed tube; process until the shrimp is light and fluffy.
Cover and refrigerate.
Pour vegetable oil into a small bowl.
Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet; brush with oil.
Cut the sugar cane lengthwise into quarters to make 12 long strips.
Dip your fingers into the oil, then take about 2 tablespoons shrimp paste and evenly mold a 1-inch cylinder around a sugar cane strip, leaving 1 inch free at both ends.
Arrange the rolls on the rack diagonally, and keep them from touching each other.
Arrange the cucumber, mint and coriander leaves, and lettuce on a platter; set aside.
Broil the shrimp rolls about 6 inches from the heat, turning once, until the edges are bright orange and the filling feels firm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
To serve, take a rice paper sheet and set it on a plate.
Dip a pastry brush into a bowl of water.
Brush the entire rice paper generously with water.
Let it sit until the paper is pliable and somewhat flimsy.
Put a lettuce leaf on one end of the paper.
Place a cucumber sliver, mint and coriander leaves on top of the lettuce.
Take a hot stick of sugar cane, break off the shrimp and place it on top of the vegetables.
Begin rolling up the paper to enclose the filling; form it into the shape of a cylinder.
Drip into the nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce,.
and take a bite, then chew on the sugar cane for the sweetness (do not swallow the sugar cane).
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce Grind the garlic, chiles and sugar into a paste in a mortar, blender or mini-food processor.
Stir in fish sauce, lime, and water.
Strain into a dipping bowl.
Note: If sugar cane is not available, use a skewer or inex- pensive bamboo chopsticks.
Soak them in water overnight before wrapping with shrimp paste.
Makes 12 rolls or serves 6.