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Mắm Tôm (Vietnamese Shrimp Sauce)

Writing about Vietnamese food is always interesting, but I rarely do it as language barrier. I am trying something today and choose one of our very special food – Mam Tom (Shrimp sauce or paste)

After collecting small shrimp from the ocean, people wash it and crush it. Dry it up for few days before add a special enzyme from a leaf. Keep it for few months for fermented before use. It takes a few months to make it and you can also keep it for few months in dry condition.

Mam Tom is widen eaten in Vietnamese daily meals, most popular in Northern part of Vietnam. Vietnamese eat it with tofu, noodles, pork or dog meat… The easiest way to recognize it is its smell. It will be very hard to smell for people who not familiar with it. It’s stinky!

Vietnamese people believe that Mam Tom helps them to avoid ghost or evil, keeping it at home brings luck and safe for family (trust me: not for kissing :)).

Mam Tom can be considered to Vegemite from Australia (I can’t stand it!), many people like it and hate it.  I still suggest you try once or two, it can be found anywhere in Hanoi sidewalk. Trying Mam Tom is one of 2 things you must do to get impressed by locals: Eating Mam Tom and pronounce the word of ‘Ngon’  like locals. You will pass the test to join Vietnamese community then :)!

Sample of recipes for Bun Dau Mam Tom (Hanoian Specialty)

Ingredients (served for 4):

  • Rice noodle (Bún): 1kg
  • Tofu (Đậu phụ): 0,5kg
  • Shrimp Sauce (Mắm Tôm): 0,1kg or a small canned box
  • Chilly, lemon, sugar, lemon grass, oil, oregano

Process (20 minutes):

Deep fried tofu while fine slice chilly, lemon grass. Put Mam Tom into a bowl then add 2 spoon of sugar, some chilly and lemon grass. Squeeze lemon on and mix well. Lastly, add couple of spoon of hot oil. Served with noodles and fried tofu and oregano.


Comment from kristine
Time: November 15, 2011, 5:38 am

Greetings from the Philippines!
I was reading your blogs about Vietnam as we are having our trip soon. Just trying to get some insights. This one caught my attention because we have the same one here in my country, it’s called Bagoong and it’s great for dipping green mangoes (unripe mangoes). You have to saute it first in garlic, onion and tomatoes. Try it!
Hope I can find one in your local store when we come to HCMC. I want to try the recipe that you posted.

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