Archive for the 'Bap' Category

Bắp Xào Tôm Bơ – Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

When the sun sets in Saigon, the street food vendors specializing in lunchtime rice plates and noodle bowls make way for evening offerings like roasted quail, grilled cuttlefish, and my personal favorite, sauteed corn. It’s impossible to resist the funky, savory, and buttery allure of bắp xào tôm bơ, especially when its enticing aroma cuts through the thick cloud of motorbike exhaust. Only in Saigon does pollution and temptation coexist so harmoniously.

As much as I adored this street side staple, I hadn’t thought much of it recently until I saw corn on sale while grocery shopping this past weekend. I picked up six ears for just over a buck and got to thinking about how to best prepare my loot. With dried shrimp, scallions, and butter ready to go in my pantry, I was all set to recreate my beloved Vietnamese sauteed corn at home.

While the red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and scallions each play an essential part in flavoring the buttery kernels, it’s the minced dried shrimp that take this dish to the next level. These pungent and salty little morsels punctuate each bite, transforming the corn from a very nice side dish to one that is intriguing and completely addicting.

Bắp xào tôm bơ is traditionally garnished with a florescent squiggle of red chili sauce, but I generally prefer mine without in order to fully take in each caramelized and blistered bite. Now that this dish has come back into my life, it’s definitely going to be a summertime mainstay. Hello, corn season!

  • 6 cobs of fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 scallion stalks, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
  • 2/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

Remove the corn kernels from the cobs using a very sharp paring knife and set aside.

Bap Xao Tom Bo (Vietnamese Sauteed Corn with Dried Shrimp, Scallions, and Butter)

Chop the scallions, white and green parts, and mince the dried shrimp. Set aside.

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Bắp Chiên

A couple months back, I posted an entry about a savory snack called nui chien that the queen of salty bites, Miss Adventure, introduced me to. Reader and Saigon resident Dave suggested in the comments section of that post that I seek out a similar snack called bap chien or “fried corn” that he and his gal pal were big fans of.

While stocking up on nui chien at the local Maximark on Hai Ba Trung, I remembered Dave’s recommendation and picked up a bag of bap chien. As soon as I arrived back at the apartment, I busted out the bap chien for a highly anticipated taste test. As Dave promised, the bap chien were addictively crunchy. The bap chien initially register as salty, but end on an unexpected sweet note. 

Salty. Sweet. Salty. Sweet. Kind of like kettle corn. I liked them so much that I nearly ate the whole bag in one sitting. I managed to rationalize it to myself by saying that I went two whole years without consuming a single corn nut while wearing braces in middle school. Clearly, I was just making up for lost time.


small corn

Steamed (hap) and grilled (nuong) corn (bap) on the cob are among the most popular nighttime street foods in Saigon. I’ve sampled two types of corn in Vietnam—the sweet and crisp variety that everyone grew up eating and the starchy and industrial kind that I’m certain is made into high fructose corn syrup and ethanol in America.

The grilled corn above is of the common breed and was purchased near the traffic circle by Ben Thanh Market. Served on a stick and smothered in hanh mo—a blend of fish sauce, scallions and oil—I find that vegetables always taste best embellished with fat and salt.

Friday Night Bites


October 5, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Corner of Ho Xuan Huong Street and Nguyen Thong Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: none
Website: none


Bo Vien, Ca Vien, Cha Gio Chien – fried meatballs, fish-balls, and eggrolls (12,000 VND)


Xoi Man – sticky rice topped with various meats (5,000 VND)


Xoi Dau Xanh – sticky rice with mung beans (3,000 VND)


Bap Xao Tom Bo – corn sauteed with shrimp, scallions, and butter (5,000 VND)

Before meeting up with friends at the Diamond Plaza for bowling last Friday night, The Astronomer and I headed to the corner of Ho Xuan Huong and Nguyen Thong Street in District 3 for some grub. We’ve driven by this street on several occasions, but never got a chance to sample the goods because we were always on the back of a xe om (hired motorbike).

On this evening, there were several corn dealers (steamed and sauteed), a lone sticky rice hawker, and a man frying up meaty treats on a stick. Feeling especially hungry, The Astronomer went for a three-course feast and purchased from each of the vendors on the street. He has eaten xoi man and bap xao tom bo previously, but this was his first foray into fried-up meat and eggrolls on a stick.

The Astronomer commented that the sauteed corn tasted exactly like the version he ate in District 4. It’s really amazing how standardized street food recipes are in Vietnam! The xoi man was generously topped with cha lua, cha bong, pate, soy sauce, and an oil and scallion mixture. We’ve been on a xoi binge as of late, and this version did not disappoint. The fried meat fest was a let down. The eggrolls, meatballs, and fish-balls turned soggy from the oil rather than crisp and the hoisin sauce was too strong at times. Two out of three isn’t terrible.

For my dinner, I went for a small box of sweet xoi dau xanh sprinkled with salt and toasted sesame seeds (mui me). The xoi was moist and sticky in all the right places and the combination of sweet and salty flavors were delicious. The xoi was so tasty that I went back and bought 2,000 VND more.

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