Shrimp cakes are served in many coastal areas throughout Asia. Shrimp cakes are sweet with the flavor of fresh shrimp and are best when lightly fried until crisp and crunchy on the outside.
In Thailand, the shrimp cakes are usually made with coconut milk, red curry and long beans. My recipe leans more to a Vietnamese style shrimp cake.
Although unconventional, I also chose to add grated sweet potato to bind the mixture and add a little natural vegetable sweetness to the shrimp paste.
It is best to roughly mince the shrimp first by hand. You need to use fresh shrimp and not frozen. The shrimp should also be raw and not cooked. The remaining ingredients can be added to the bowl with the chopped shrimp and gently tossed. A little cornstarch will also help bind the mixture and hold the shrimp cakes together.
I then pour all of this mixture into the bowl of the food processor and pulse briefly 3-4 times. You want the shrimp mixture to bind together but maintain some texture so do not over process.
Heat a little oil in the skillet and sauté a small spoonful of the mixture for a few minutes to check the seasoning before shaping and cooking all of the shrimp cakes. You may need to adjust the salt and pepper.
I shape the shrimp paste mixture into a ball with a couple of tablespoons. Once the shrimp balls are placed in the hot oil in the skillet, I flatten the balls into small round cakes and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I serve them with nuoc cham sauce which is a sweet and salty Vietnamese fish sauce. You can make your own or buy a bottle from your local Asian market to have on hand to serve with shrimp cakes and other Vietnamese cuisine.