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Sweet Potato and Shrimp Cakes with Nuoc Cham

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Active time 32 mins
Total time 32 mins

Serves 4 (serving size: 2 cakes and about 2 tbsp. sauce)

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. Place the dipping sauce in a bowl surrounded by the lettuce and herbs so guests can build their own lettuce wraps as they like.


  • 2 cups grated peeled white or orange sweet potato (about 8 oz.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (such as Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons matchstick-cut carrot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves or other soft lettuce leaves
  • 8 cilantro sprigs
  • 4 mint sprigs

Nutrition Information

  • calories 258
  • fat 15.7 g
  • satfat 1.5 g
  • monofat 9.4 g
  • polyfat 4.3 g
  • protein 8 g
  • carbohydrate 23 g
  • fiber 3 g
  • cholesterol 82 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 394 mg
  • calcium 53 mg
  • sugars 7 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 3 g

How to Make It

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Serve potato cakes with sauce, lettuce leaves, cilantro, and mint.

The Pho Cookbook. Ten Speed Press, $22, on sale Feb. 7, 2017.