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Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
I consider this dish a modern Vietnamese cook's interpretation of a classic. If you can find white sweet potatoes, use them--they're drier and less sweet than their orange cousins, but traditional sweet potatoes will work just fine, too. Place the dipping sauce in a bowl surrounded by the lettuce and herbs so guests can build their own lettuce wraps as they like.
If your family enjoys crab cakes or salmon cakes, break out this recipe to expand the weeknight menu rotation and give everyone a chance to practice their chopstick skills. This dish cooks from start to finish in only about 30 minutes.
How to Make It
Combine potato and salt in a bowl; gently massage with your hands until potato mixture is moist and limp. Rinse potato mixture; drain. Place potato mixture in paper towels; squeeze to remove excess liquid. Place potato mixture, shallots, and shrimp in a bowl, stirring to combine. Stir in flours, 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, pepper, and egg. Divide and shape potato mixture into 8 (3-inch) cakes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add 4 cakes to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Remove cakes from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 cakes and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Keep warm.
Combine sugar, 2 tablespoons water, juice, and vinegar in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce, carrot, garlic, and chile; let stand 15 minutes, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Serve potato cakes with sauce, lettuce leaves, cilantro, and mint.
The Pho Cookbook.
Ten Speed Press, $22, on sale Feb. 7, 2017.