These Vietnamese green rice flakes crusted prawns are fried to crunchy perfection then served with fragrant Vietnamese herbs and addicting nuoc cham.
A while back, I shared my family's recipe for Vietnamese prawn and sweet potato fritters, a famous street food from Hanoi. I'm excited to bring you another fun street food recipe, tôm chiên cốm, or Vietnamese green rice flakes crusted prawns. Although it's lesser known, these green rice flakes crusted prawns taste just as delicious! The prawns are coated with a layer of green rice flakes and deep fried to crunchy perfection then served with fragrant Vietnamese herbs and addicting nuoc cham.
- Prawns: I like to use head on prawns with size 31/35 which means there are 31 to 35 prawns per pound. To prepare the prawns for cooking, cut the shell along the spine with your kitchen shears. Use a skewer or your fingers to remove the black intestinal thread. This black line running down the spine of the prawn will add a gritty texture to the prawns. Give them a quick rinse under cold water. Leave the shells on.
- Green rice flakes: Known as cốm in Vietnamese, they come from glutinous/sweet rice harvested as a young grains, roasted and then flattened with a mortar and pestle to remove the husk. Authentic green rice flakes from Vietnam are quite special and only a small quantity is produced in Hanoi each year. You can find the semi-authentic green rice flakes at your local Vietnamese markets or online.
- Rice flour: for this recipe, make sure you get rice flour and not glutinous flour. It’s an inexpensive regular shelf item at the Asian grocery stores.
- Club soda: using club soda/sparkling water instead of water makes the batter light and airy. Make sure to use cold club soda as they have more bubbles compared to room temperature.
Tips for Frying Prawns
- Keep all the ingredients (flour, egg, and club soda) cold.
- Don't overmix the batter. Lumps are ok.
- The best temperature to fry these prawn and sweet potato fritters run between 350 and 375 degrees F.
- Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan when frying or these rice flake crusted prawns will turn out a bit soggy. I only have 3 fritters in the pan at a time with a thermometer attached to the side of the pan to keep the temperature consistent.
- Each fritter only needs about 60-90 seconds on each side. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel before transferring them to a serving plate.
- To keep them crispy and warm while you’re finishing up the batch, keep the fried prawns in the oven at 275 degrees F.
What to Serve Prawns With
These rice flakes crusted prawns are traditionally served with a dipping sauce, lettuce, and fresh herbs like Vietnamese mint (rau răm), Thai basil (húng quế ), peppermint (húng lui), and Vietnamese perilla (tiá tô). You can also wrap them in rice paper and make rolls out of them similar to spring rolls.
As soon as these green rice flakes crusted prawns started cooling down, I couldn't help devouring them. The prawns are best eaten warm so make sure you have the herbs and dipping sauce ready. I love the taste of crunchy rice flakes against sweet prawn meat wrapped in lettuce and herbs with the nuoc cham bringing it altogether.
For more Vietnamese food inspiration, you might like these recipes: Vietnamese prawn and coconut pancakes, Vietnamese crepes, Vietnamese prawn and sweet potato fritters, Vietnamese tamarind prawns.
Vietnamese Green Rice Flakes Crusted Prawns
- 1 pound head on prawns, shell on, deveined
- ½ teaspoon salt
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large egg, cold
- 1 cup rice flour
- ¼ cup club soda, cold
- ¾ cup green rice flakes
- 2 quart vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1 head of butter lettuce
- 1 handful of Thai basil
- 1 handful of Vietnamese mint
- 1 handful of peppermint
- 1 handful of of perilla leaves
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red bird's eye chili, thinly sliced
- To make the dipping sauce, combine everything in a bowl and whisk together until combined. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Whisk rice flour, egg, ½ teaspoon salt, and club soda in a large bowl until smooth.
- Place green rice flakes in a shallow bowl.
- Season prawns with salt and pepper and put them in a separate bowl.
- Heat oil n a large saucepan to 350-375 degrees F.
- Dip a prawn into the batter, roll it in green rice flakes until completely coated. Repeat with another two prawns.
- Lower the prawns into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden. Remove the prawns from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining prawns.
- Serve immediately with lettuce, fresh herbs, and nuoc cham.