Snap Crackle Pop, Banh Phong Tom

I waited so long to take my bag of instant prawn crackers – banh phong tom in Vietnamese – for a test drive, a souvenir from my trip to Southeast Asia this summer. It must have been a silly attempt to prevent them from running out! Silly of course, because I hadn’t been able to enjoy them which is, well… the point.

I have always loved noshing on these puffed snacks at Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants stateside when they have them.  They’re nom nom. In Miami, Bali Cafe downtown has a few kinds, even one made in-house! (Ask for kroepoek there.)

It’s no secret by now that I usually don’t plan too much before fixing a meal in my kitchen at home.  It’s kind of nice to just wing it, especially when my day job is all about precision when it comes to dishes and recipe writing.  There is a very specific way things are done in the culinary arts, for good reason, and I love that.  Chef Michael has taught me about this in the past year since I’ve been working for him.  Would you believe, it will be one year on October 5?

So as per usual at home, it was no nonsense when I set out to enjoy these last night. I mean, they take all of two seconds anyway to fry up, so why make something complicated to go with it?

Grabbing a pan I like to use, which is actually the cover to an old stock pot, I poured in an inch or so of canola oil and brought it to temperature on the stove. As you’ll see from my BlackBerry clip in the VodPod sidebar widget, the instant prawn chips flash in the pan QUICK and need to be pulled out right away before browning!  I had a paper towel ready, when I scooped them up with a slotted spoon.  Slotted spoons are the best. Kids would totally get a kick out of this (supervised by an adult of course, with the hot oil!)

I fried an egg after in the same oil, at the same temperature, and pulled it out using the same spoon after a minute or so, placing it in the bottom of a small bowl. Then a bunch of asparagus followed, for yet longer, maybe about 3 minutes being sure to shift them around a bit so all sizes get that crinkled sear turning the thin outer layer a little brown, exposing bright green right below.

To plate, I crushed some cumin fleur de sel in the mortar, showering the egg with a small amount, then thyme leaves, and lastly drops of sriracha. Scoop and enjoy your snap crackle pop.


2 thoughts on “Snap Crackle Pop, Banh Phong Tom

  1. Jackie, great example of ‘winging’ it, frying 3 different types of food group in the oil! Nice combo by the way, slurp.

    Hey, your cast iron wok is the perfect vessel to do deep frying. It’s not so deep, using less oil, has a wide area so you can fry more in one go plus anytime you slather oil in there, it helps build up its patina!

    There’s a great newish Indonesian grocery store, City Center, 286 NE 2nd St.close to Bali cafe where you can pick up all the goodies you talk about incl. kroepoek (shrimp crackers) ready made in a bag! If you’re still on my subscriber list, I have a discount code.

    1. Thanks Eleanor! All good tips – and I will definitely be checking out the Indonesian grocery store. Thanks as always for reaching out with your input!

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