Shrimp cakes are one of my favorite dim sum treats. But it’s not always easy to find good ones, so I figured I’d try my hands at it.

I’ve made seafood cakes before, but I’ve always gone the more ‘traditional’ route of using eggs and breadcrumbs as a binder. Turns out, dim sum style shrimp cakes (and a lot of Asian fritters) are made with nothing but a little sprinkle of cornstarch. The interior of the cake is much lighter, but the outside is crisp and crunchy. I think I’m using cornstarch from now on.

Start by roasting your peppers over a gas burner (or broil them), once the skin is blistered place in a bowl and cover. Let sit for a while, then remove the burnt skin from the peppers under cool water. Remove the seeds and membranes, then roughly chop the pepper.

This recipe is really all about the mise en place. Once everything is chopped and prepped, you’re halfway done. Put all the shrimp cake ingredients (using only 2 T. of the cornstarch) into a food processor and pulse it gently until the mixture is just blended together. Chunky is good.

Place the rest of your cornstarch into a shallow bowl next to your pan of hot oil. Make sure the oil is sizzling hot, otherwise your shrimp cakes might be a bit greasy. Make a ball or cake from the shrimp mixture and toss it gently in the cornstarch. Put into the hot oil and fry until it’s golden brown on both sides and serve immediately.

Now that I’ve got this one figured out, I think I’m going to have to start experimenting with some other seafood and aromatics. I’m predicting some kind of lobster and corn cake in the near future.

Crispy Shrimp Cakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2 (as an entree)

Ingredients

1 jalapeño pepper
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1/2 c. plus 2 T. cornstarch
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. minced ginger
3 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts only
1 t. sugar
salt and white pepper
vegetable oil for frying
Lime wedges & cilantro for serving (optional)

Instructions

Heat 1" of oil in a large nonstick pan.

Roast, peel and seed the jalapeño and the bell pepper, then chop it roughly.

Put the peppers, along with the shrimp, 2 T. cornstarch, garlic, ginger, scallions, sugar, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse gently until it's well combined but still a bit chunky.

Use wet hands and wash them frequently during the next step. It's a little messy but worth it: divide the shrimp mixture into 6 even patties, roll it in the cornstarch and drop into hot oil.

Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Dab off the excess oil with a paper towel before serving.

I like to serve these for dinner on top of zoodles with some kind of funky Asian sauce. But they're also great as appetizers with an aioli for dipping. Either way, I like to have some lime and cilantro on top.

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