Forget cupcakes and cake flavored vodka (all great things!), I’ll take shrimp cakes. They just might be one of the most crispy, delicious bites you’ll eat, especially if you make them yourself. And I’ll never have a pre-made crab cake again.
So maybe that’s a bit drastic, but this all started last week when dinner was in the oven, an hour or so away from being served, and Jan was rummaging around the kitchen for an appetizer for us. I asked if we had any crab cakes, because on occasion, we’ll buy frozen crab cakes as an appetizer to serve with a Sriracha-spiced mayo/yogurt sauce and lemon wedges. After a quick look in the freezer, Jan told me that we did not have any crab cakes, to which I said “OK.” It was just a suggestion, after all, and we had plenty of cheeses to make a mini plate, or some other “fast” foods to rustle up.
“What about a shrimp cake?” Jan asked a few minutes later, pulling out a few bags of shrimp from the freezer. I hadn’t thought about that, I said. “Is it hard to make?”
“I don’t think so,” Jan said, already pulling up his laptop to search for recipes.
In general, I prefer eating shrimp to crab, so it sounded good to me. We thawed some raw shrimp and got together the rest of the ingredients, which included panko bread crumbs, egg, garlic, scallions, and spices. We peeled the shrimp and cut them into small pieces, then added them to the mixture, scooped out ¼ cup “cakes,” and coated them in the panko breadcrumbs. After refrigerating for about half an hour, we pan fried them in corn oil.
The shrimp cakes were so good, I forgot all about the dinner and had to limit myself to two so that I would still be hungry for the main course. The panko breadcrumbs, which for many foods might be too big and “rough,” were perfect for making crispy, light shrimp cakes that had plenty of shrimp. Also important was cutting the right-size pieces of shrimp—big enough to get the good shrimp flavor, but not so big that it made the cakes difficult to form. We found that raisin-sized pieces of shrimp worked perfectly.
I felt that we’d discovered an amazing dish that was surprisingly easy to make. I made a mental note to request shrimp cakes at any possible appetizer opportunity. But Jan was not content to leave it at that. He wanted to know if he could make crab cakes with the same effect.
“Nooo,” I said. “The shrimp cakes are perfect! Let’s just stick with the shrimp cakes.”
Always the mad scientist, Jan wanted to do some experimentation. So last night he made some shrimp cakes AND crab cakes, pretty much using the same recipe as the shrimp cakes but replacing the shrimp with crab. Any opportunity for a taste test, right? The verdict: both were delicious, though the crab cakes do have a stronger “fish” flavor than the more subtle shrimp cakes.
I have no problem admitting that the homemade crab cakes Jan made were excellent. The best crab cakes I’ve ever had, actually. But I’m still sticking with my new favorite cake—shrimp.
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (reserve ¾ cups of it in a separate container)
- ½ pound peeled frozen shrimp, uncooked
- ¼ cup light mayonnaise
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 chopped scallions
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Set ¾ cups of the breadcrumbs aside on a plate.
- Cut shrimp into small pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the remaining ¼ cup breadcrumbs and combine.
- Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out mixture onto the plate of breadcrumbs. Coat completely and transfer to another plate. Repeat for the remaining cakes.
- Refrigerate for approximately ½ hour.
- Pan fry the shrimp cakes in corn oil until darkened and shrimp is thoroughly cooked.
- Serve with sauce (1 part light mayonnaise, 1 part plain yogurt, and Sriracha sauce to taste) and lemon wedges.