Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spicy Shrimp Cakes – All Killer, No Filler

I love Asian-style fish or shrimp cakes, but almost never order them at restaurants, and the reason is a little thing called “food cost. “While the best tasting, and textured shrimp cakes are made with pure shrimp, chefs have always added some type of cheap, starchy filler to make the dish more profitable.  

Oh sure, they call it a “binder,” but make no mistake, it’s there to stretch a pound of shrimp into two pounds of cakes. Home cooks have been known to do the same thing, for pretty much the exact same reasons, but if you want to enjoy shrimp cakes in their most pure form, I encourage you to give this a try. It only takes a few minutes to put together, assuming you have a food processor, but even if you don’t, they can still be yours.

You’ll just need to pile up your ingredients on a cutting board, and using a large knife or cleaver, chop until you get a paste, which will take less time and effort than you expect. Maybe five minutes of the ol' choppa choppa, and you should have something very similar to what I achieved.

You can play around with the flavorings here, and it’s not a bad idea to cook a small piece of the mixture to test for spiciness, salt, etc. And please, don’t overcook these. They only need a minute or two per side. Even if they are a little translucent inside, as they sit for a minute on the paper towel, they will finish cooking through. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy! 


Ingredients for 8 appetizer sized portions:

NOTE: I made mine with 24-ounce of shrimp, but since it’s generally sold in pound units, these ingredients are for a two-pound batch

2 pounds raw peeled and deveined shrimp
1 rounded tablespoon finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1 or 2 teaspoons sambal chili paste, or freshly minced hot peppers
1 teaspoon kosher salt (you can always start with 3/4 teaspoon, then cook some to taste, and adjust)
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of cayenne
Panko breadcrumbs as needed
vegetable oil for frying

25 comments:

Monica said...

This look like a keeper aas a summer dish, if it stops raining!

Eric Thomas said...

I take advantage of gravity every time!

krista said...

Hi! Could you use fish or crab meat instead of shrimp? Thanks so much!!!

Gretchen said...

Would leaving out that half teaspoon of fish sauce make a big diff? It's raining like cats and dogs, flood warnings, so no trips to the store for me.

Bethany said...

These look amazing! Unfortunately, I cannot eat shrimp. What rolls you recommend as a substitute?

MrKikoboy said...

You could also save yourself a step by using Huy Fong's Chilli Garlic sauce instead of sambal...

Le Cat said...

I must know how to do that cucumber salad!!!

Steve Kennedy said...

My daughter comes over for Fathers day, and we have a little shrimp cook off to set the tone for the upcoming Alabama football season. We eat shrimp on Alabama game days, Have been doing it for years. We each come up with 3 or 4 different recipes, and eat shrimp all day long. Year before last she smoked me with some Carolina shrimp and grits. Last year I got her with your shrimp diablo dipped in corn dog batter and deep fried. You should try it, it was pretty darn good. I made it for the LSU game, You would have to live in the south to understand the significance. I already have three to enter into our contest, But this will be my forth.

Robin Betts said...

Have you, chef, or anyone here, got any tricks for home-made panko breadcrumbs? They're ludicrously overpriced here in the UK.

tecitus said...

Hi Chef I would like to know the name of the pink raw shrimps and where can I get it? Thanks!

Maryam Abdulla said...

do you think I can use chicken breasts instead of the shrimp?

Dale R said...

I don't know why, but I always laugh when you do the whole Eminem "round the outside" gag. Great way to mix it up. I wonder how many caught that. Keep up the great work!!!

Pyrofish said...

This looks like a winner to add to my next fish fry! I did notice you made a rookie mistake though. You put your ingredients into the mixer around the edges, everyone knows based on ALL TV Chefs that ingredients must sit on top of the middle thingamajig that the blades are attached to... am the only one that irks? They dump spices, etc right on that thing on purpose just to get under my skin... Great looking stuff, as usual.

@Robin, when I looked Panko years ago, I was told that it is made specifically to be panko, that it wasn't stale bread that's been busted up. The story was that Japanese Panko was a dough that spread thinly over a mesh, then when it was dry, it was knocked off. The new non-Japanese Panko, seems to be dough that has been riced and allowed to dry. I don't know if that is true, but what better place than Chef John's page to perpetuate epicurean rumors.

Toshiko Suisei said...

Hi Chef John -- To Robin Betts: To make panko breadcrumbs take a loaf of 2-3 day old (dry/tough but still flexible) white bread, trim off the crust, and then grate the bread on the large holes of a box grater. It should shred rather than crumb. Spread the shredded bread over a large, rimmed baking sheet and leave in oven set to lowest temp until completely dried out (do not toast). Homestyle white bread works better than baguette-type breads for this.

Pyrofish said...

Please disregard what I said above. Definitely not correct. As with most things, youtube has the answers. You can grate dried bread on a grater and get panko. It's more like small croutons than bread crumbs.

ke said...

Made some today, but with trout and guacamole dip. Delicious!

Unknown said...

Dear Chef, You really nocked this one out of the park. Served it to a friend this evening and we are still salivating over these babies. Thanks for another great recipe.

Ying Jie-Jie said...

can't wait to try this. waiting for the full recipe with instructions on allrecipes.com! thanks, chef.

AIM Art in Motion Dance Studio said...

Love your recipes... but.... why can't I get the directions to the recipes, only the ingredients? Am I missing something?

Ying Jie-Jie said...

Chef, will you be posting the step by step instructions on allrecipes.com soon?

Nise said...

A few years ago we ate a a little sea shack near Hilton Head and a Gullah chef made some luscious shrimp burgers for us, similar to what you did in the food processor and without fillers. He ground up the shrimp and spices and then added bigger shrimp on the outside and griddled them. So yummy. Thanks Chef John!

mamapua Kam said...

Waaahh! I totally blew it and bought a big container of fresh, wild bay shrimp thinking, "oh, I'll try those shrimp cakes I saw Chef John do. They really looked like the ones you used in the recipe. Only to find out it was already cooked shrimp. Any suggestions on what I can make with them instead besides Shrimp cocktail? Are you positive it won't work with this recipe? Waaaah !

Chef John said...

Sorry, but cook shrimp won't work for this, just like cooked ground beef won't work to make a hamburger. I'm not a big fan of precooked shrimp, so I guess a salad or sandwich would be my only options.

Snappleton S said...

To quote my wife after I made these and we ate them with our children, "These are my favorite. I no longer will eat crab cakes." Simple and easy to make and prepare. I even used Chef John's one spatula technique and it worked fine though I do not recommend it. Another home run. Thank you.

beemo said...

I made these this evening with some forgotten frozen shrimp from the back of the freezer. Global ingredient amounts a bit off due to meager shrimp stock, cocktails, and general grumpiness. Couldn't wait to eat them so I burned my fingers a bit.

The final result swept all my troubles away, and I selfishly ate 80% of the yield. Others liked it too (what I deigned to give them)