One of our favourite traditional dishes is Vietnamese shrimp shell fry (tep rang)! This dish uses baby shrimp that have been dried out to the point where it’s just the shell remaining. It is then seasoned and fried with garlic and fish sauce to create a weird, whacky but totally delicious dish.
You can buy the shrimp shells from Asian groceries. Because it’s a dried product they have a long shelf life, so they’re a great source of protein to keep on hand.
This hidden gem of a dish is very easy, quick and cheap, which makes it a great meal to whip up at the drop of a hat. It is normally eaten as one of several mains to share with rice.
Ingredients for Vietnamese Shrimp Shell Fry (Tep)
One of the best things about this recipe is that it has a very small list of ingredients:
- shrimp shells (available from Asian groceries, see picture below)
- fish sauce
- lemon juice
Making Vietnamese Shrimp Shell Fry
Preparing the Shrimp Shells
First we need to clean the shrimp shells and remove all the impurities:
- Place the shrimp shells in a large bowl and cover with cold water.
- Allow all impurities to sink to the bottom of the bowl. If you see any thing that is not shrimp floating on the top, then remove that too.
- Using a strainer, remove all the floating shrimp. Do not scoop from the bottom of the bowl.
- Repeat this process at least two more times to make sure the baby shrimp is clean.
Note: Do not skimp on the cleaning process! There can be pieces of seashells and rocks in your shrimp which can easily break a tooth if not removed.
Frying the Shrimp Shells
- Add garlic and oil into a cold fry pan. Turn the heat up to medium and let the fry pan heat up slowly so that the garlic is infused into the oil.
- Add the shrimp shells, fish sauce, salt and sugar.
- Stir the shrimp shells around the pan until all the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated.
- Just before serving, squeeze lemon juice over the top. Keep some slices of lemon on the table so you can add more if you like.
- Serve with white jasmine rice
Other Traditional Vietnamese Recipes You Might Like
- Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Caramelised Pork)
- Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes (Ca Chua Nhoi Thit)
- Vietnamese Caramelised Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho Gung)
- Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf (Cha Trung)
- Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew (Stovetop & Instant Pot)
We hope you have enjoyed our recipe!
Scruff & Steph
Vietnamese Shrimp Shell Fry (Tep)
- 1 fry pan
- 200 gm dried baby shrimp shells (available from Asian groceries)
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 tbsp oil neutral
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- In a large bowl of cold water, add the dried shrimp shells. Move the shrimp around with your fingers and remove any foreign objects floating at the top.
- Scoop up the floating shrimp shells and put them into another bowl. Do not scoop up anything from the bottom of the bowl as this is where any impurities/dirt will be.
- Repeat this process at least two more times (so three times in total) to ensure all debris has been removed.
- Strain the remaining shrimp shells, then use a spoon to press down on the shrimp shells to force any excess water out. Let it sit for a few minutes to further drain/dry.
- In a cold fry pan, add the oil and garlic. Turn the heat to medium.
- Once the garlic starts to colour, add the shrimp shells, salt, sugar and fish sauce. Mix well.
- Keep stirring the shrimp shells around the pan for roughly nine minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed/evaporated.
- Taste check and adjust to your liking.
- Right before serving squeeze over the lemon juice, then serve with jasmine rice.