Go Back
Prawn and Sweet Potato Fritters - Banh Tom

Vietnamese Prawn and Potato Fritters - Banh Tom

A prawn nestled in a basket of golden sweet potato strips and then deep fried until crispy. It is traditionally served with fresh lettuce, herbs and a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce called nuoc mam cham.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Banh Tom, Fritter
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 people
Author Scruff


  • 30 gm dried shrimp (optional but recommended and available at Asian grocery)
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • 350 gm sweet potato, peeled and cut into strips
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 -15 raw prawns with shell on
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying


  • 1/3 cup self raising flour
  • 1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup reserved dried shrimp water or tap water

To Serve

  • 1 head of butter lettuce or your choice
  • Nuoc mam dipping sauce  (please see the link in the instructions)
  • Thai basil optional
  • coriander optional


  1. If using dried shrimp, wash them thoroughly in warm water and then soak in a bowl with 1.5 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes.

  2. Prep all vegetables and make nuoc mam dipping sauce. Skip making the dipping sauce if you prefer to have it on its own.

  3. After 20 minutes, remove the soaking shrimp from the bowl with a spoon and save the water. After all the shrimp is removed let the water settle so that any impurities will sink to the bottom. Carefully pour the shrimp water into the measuring cup leaving the impurities behind in the bowl. 

  4. Pound the soaked shrimp in a mortar and pestle or blitz for 10 seconds in a small blender until it is a mince. 

  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, shrimp mince and the reserved shrimp water. Combine well. (Note 1)

  6. Add the sweet potato strips and onions to the mixing bowl and gently stir. Leave aside.

  7. Prepare the prawns to your liking. We leave the prawn whole with the shell and head on. (Note 2).

  8. Fill a deep pan on medium heat with 3-4 cm of vegetable oil. If you have a cooking thermometer, bring the oil temperature to roughly 175°C  (347°F).

  9. Before making a fritter, stir the mixture. With tongs, place the fritter mixture on a spatula or a big spoon and flatten it out. 

  10. Coat one side of the prawn in the batter and place it on top of the fritter.

  11. Slide the fritter off the spatula / spoon and into the oil. I recommend frying no more than 2 -3 fritters at a time, so the oil temperature does not drop too low. (Note 3)

  12. Cook each fritter for 2 mins on each side, or until golden and crisp (Note 4).

  13. Remove the fritter and drain on a cooling rack. Do not let them cool on top or too close to each other to maintain crispiness. 

Recipe Notes

  1. If you have accidentally thrown out the shrimp water (I have done this on a few occasions), just use tap water.
  2. We use the whole prawn because it looks more striking. We figure anyone who's not comfortable with eating the heads or any other part can just pick it off. 
  3. Do not overcrowd the pan with fritters. This is because the temperature of the oil will drop significantly and the fritters will absorb oil instead of developing that crunch.
  4. Increasing the cooking time will give you a better crunch on the fritter. Be careful though as sweet potato contains high amounts of sugar which can burn easily.