Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022

© Susie Cushner

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Shrimp cakes with ginger and cilantro

These spicy shrimp cakes take a little time to form and fry, but it’s worth the effort. You can cut corners by buying peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, and prepare ahead by forming the cakes and refrigerating them overnight, then frying the next day.

2-3 c. (500-750 ml) canola oil, divided
½ large yellow onion, minced (about 1 c./250 ml)
3 small green serrano chilies, minced
1-in. (2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, minced
¼ c. (60 ml) loosely packed cilantro leaves, minced
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) cayenne
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground turmeric
1 small russet potato, boiled until tender (about 4 oz./125 g)
8 oz. (250 g) medium shrimp, peeled (fresh or frozen)
1 egg, whisked
½ c. (125 ml) fine dry breadcrumbs (make your own with lightly toasted white bread)

Heat 1 tsp. (5 ml) of oil in a small skillet over medium heat and lightly sauté the onion, chilies and ginger until the onion turns golden. It will seem as if there isn’t enough oil to sauté properly, but if you add too much now, it will be hard to form the cakes later. Add the cilantro, cayenne and turmeric and sauté for 1 more minute. Cool slightly. Cool, peel and mash the potato.

Using a food processor, pulse-grind the shrimp until lumpy. You can also use a large knife to chop roughly. Combine it with the potato, onion mixture, egg and salt and mix well. Sometimes the shrimp you buy is already salted, so add as much salt as you think appropriate. Heat 1 tsp. (5 ml) of oil in a small skillet, form a tiny test shrimp cake and cook it in the hot oil. Taste and check for salt. Make adjustments before you proceed.

Wet your palms and form the shrimp cakes. First, divide the mixture into 12 balls, then flatten into discs. They should be roughly 1½ inches (3.75 cm) in diameter and ½-inch (1.25-cm) thick. Pat in the breadcrumbs, coating well on all sides. The cakes will be loose in texture; this is desirable, as they will be moist and tender when fried, not rubbery little hockey pucks!

You can prepare the cakes and refrigerate them overnight, then fry them the next day. Refrigeration will bind the mixture together; bring them to room temperature before frying. To refrigerate, layer the cakes on wax paper so they don’t stick to each other and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

In a medium skillet, heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the cakes. When the oil begins to smoke, gently place in enough cakes to make one layer. Do not crowd the pan. When they are golden brown on 1 side, after about 3 or 4 minutes, turn them over. Work in batches until all the cakes are done. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Serves 6.

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