Caning Works: Sugar Cane Shrimp


Caning works! And I think it’s about time we did a little more of it right here… yes, we cane!”

My last Sunday Night Dinner Club (SNDC) of 2009 was an Asian themed dinner, not something I’m too familiar with unless it comes in the form of a plastic bag with a smiley face on it. My co-chef T2 is a good hand at all Asian, but I wasn’t willing to just sit back and pass all the duties on to him. He’s a vegetarian and my friends wouldn’t have been too impressed if  there was no meat on the table.

I was discussing this particular SNDC with fellow food blogger Thrifty DC Cook and she gave me a couple of great recipes to work with.

Sugar Cane Shrimp

What drew me to this dish were the sugar canes. The only time I have sugar canes are in my mojitos and it never occurred to me they can be served with food (or a vessel for serving food).

I warn you now: sugar canes are possibly the most difficult item to acquire. I searched high and low for these suckers: Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, Best Supermarket, Bestway Market, Yes! Organic and even the Hana Japanese Market on U St (which by the way is amazing) to no avail. I ended up at Cafe Salsa on 14th St as I’ve dined there and knew they served sugar canes in the mojitos. The chef was kind enough to sell me two cans of canes. Never be afraid to speak with chefs. If there is an ingredient you need, just ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll say no, but unlikely if they have enough until the next delivery.

Sugar canes are huge, a lot larger than what I anticipated, which turned out great as I sliced each one into quarter strips. Now I have a can of them sitting in my cupboard for when I have a mojito party.

The recipe for these little beauties after the jump.


1lb Shrimp, deveined, peeled and washed
4 – 5 t Cornstarch
4 t Brown Sugar
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
2 t Red Chili Flakes
1 Egg
1 Small Shallot, minced
1/2 Cup Cilantro, finely chopped
4 Sugar Canes
Salt & Pepper


Finely chop the shrimp, transfer to a bowl and add the cornstarch, brown sugar, red chili flakes, garlic, shallot, 1T EVOO and salt & pepper. Stir gently until all ingredients are combined.

Transfer to a food processor and process until a mince-like consistency. Transfer back to the bowl and cover. Place in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour.

As the mixture is chilling prep your water for steaming. Using a brush, cover the top of the steamer with EVOO. Finely chop the cilantro and place on a large plate.

Slice the sugar canes lengthwise into quarters. Wet hand with cold water. Place a small ball of the mince into the palm of your hand and mold into a flat form, place the sugar cane over the mince and form around the cane. Gently roll the formed cane over the cilantro and set aside. Make all the sugar canes or until the mixture is gone.

Place the sugar canes in the steamer and steam for approximately 5 minutes. If your steamer is not large enough these can be done in batches as the steamed sticks can be set aside before grilling.

Once all the sugar canes have been steamed place under the grill for 8-10 minutes, or until brown.

Serve immediately.


The child in me wanted to share the label of the sugar canes, “Thep Padung PORN Coconut. LTD.” The label says porn.

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  • Andrew January 5, 2010  

    Do you eat the cane? If you just use the cane as a utensil, then I’ll bet fresh cane would work too, but if you actually eat it the fresh stuff would be too hard. Easiest way to get it here in NOLA would be to drive pas a field and grab a stalk.


  • Britannia January 5, 2010  

    “Eat” the cane, yes, or at the very least chew on it. These canes were stored in a syup in a can so they are pretty soft and chewey. Exactly like the sugar canes in a mojito.

    And way to rub it in, passing a field to grab one, so jealous.

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