Vietnamese Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimps (Bap Xao) is a fun street food snack in Saigon. Each bite is filled with sweetness from corn, slight saltiness from dried shrimps and richness from butter.
Made from humble ingredients, Bap Xao surprises me with how tasty it is. The corn kernels are so sweet, plump, crisp and juicy. They are briefly sautéed with butter to give you a smooth and rich mouthfeel. Then come the dried shrimps with an umami and savory taste to balance the sweetness.
Related: this Vietnamese grilled corn with scallion oil (bap nuong mo hanh) is another popular street food snack in Saigon.
To make Bap Xao, you will need fresh corn on the cobs, dried shrimps, butter and scallions.
For the best result, choose fresh corn on the cobs with even and plump kernels. I like to use sweet corn for its sweetness and juiciness. I heard it is also possible to use hominy in this dish.
Dried shrimps (“tom kho” in Vietnamese) are shrimps that have been sun-dried and shrunk to a much smaller size. They are often added to stock to impart a unique umami flavor (such as in my bun thang recipe) or used in snack dishes.
You can find dried shrimps at Asian grocery stores. I often store them in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve the quality.
I’ve seen some recipes just throw in the dried shrimps with the corn directly. However, I don’t think that’s a good approach because the shrimps will still be hard and chewy in the final dish.
We need to soak the dried shrimps in water to reconstitute and soften them, then lightly pound (or roughly chop) them. That way, the texture will be more pleasant and their umami flavor will also blend better with other ingredients in the dish.
Substitution for Dried Shrimps
If you don’t have dried shrimps on hand or cannot find it, I think you can use fresh shrimps. Chop them into small pieces and dry roast in your skillet to reduce water content and concentrate the flavors. Then use the toasted shrimp pieces to substitute for dried shrimps in this dish.
How to Make Vietnamese Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimps
It is very quick and easy to make Vietnamese Sweet Corn with Dried Shrimps. You should have all ingredients ready before turning on the stove.
First, reconstituted dried shrimps will be briefly sautéed and seasoned with fish sauce to enhance the flavors. After that, we will toss sweet corn with butter and then stir fry corn, shrimps, and scallion together until flavors are combined. That’s it.
You can enjoy Bap Xao as a snack or a side dish/appetizer. Some people like to sprinkle crispy fried shallots or drizzle some sriracha on top when serving. Please feel free to add these toppings if you want. Detailed measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.
More Recipes with Sweet Corn
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Vietnamese Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimps (Bap Xao)
- Place dried shrimps in a bowl and add enough water to cover the shrimps. Soak them until soft to the touch (about 20 minutes or more depending on your dried shrimps).
- While soaking the shrimps, separate corn kernels from the cobs and discard the cobs. Slice scallion thinly and keep the white part separated from the green part.
- When the dried shrimps have been reconstituted and softened, pound them lightly or roughly chop into smaller pieces.
- Place a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add dried shrimps pieces and sauté briefly. Once the shrimps are heated through, add a teaspoon of fish sauce (or to taste), mix to combine and then transfer to a clean plate.
- To the same skillet, add a tablespoon of butter. Once butter has melted, add the white part of scallion and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add corn kernels and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (to taste) and sauté for a couple of minutes or until corn kernels are fully cooked.
- Add dried shrimps back to the pan and add the green part of scallions. Stir fry everything briefly together until flavors are combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to your likings. Transfer to serving plates and serve hot.