Sunday, March 3, 2013
Several years ago I sampled something similar to these cakes in an Asian restaurant. I tried to recreate them in my kitchen and although they were never quite the same, they were really delicious.
These savory clumps of shrimp and sweet potato are bound together with rice starch and egg and then served with a tangy and spicy sauce.
1/2 lb medium raw shrimp
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp garlic paste or minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 sweet potato, about 12 oz
1 Serrano pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup rice starch
3-4 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2-3 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tsp honey or more to taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil
reserved Serrano pepper, sliced
oil for frying
Clean the shrimp by removing the shells and then the vein which runs along the backs.
Place the cleaned shrimp into a bowl. Drizzle with the fish sauce and add the garlic and ginger. Toss the mixture until everything is evenly combined and the shrimp are coated. Set aside.
Peel the sweet potato and then shred it. Place into a large bowl.
Wash the pepper and then slice about 3/4 inch off one end and set aside for the sauce. You can either remove the seeds or leave them in depending on how much heat you like. Chop the pepper fine and add to the sweet potatoes. Add the sliced green onions. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Toss the sweet potato mixture until it's well combined.
At this point you can either roughly chop the reserved shrimp or leave them intact. I prefer to leave them as they are, but that does create a bit of extra work later on.
Add the shrimp and the marinade to the sweet potato mixture as well as the egg. Stir until well combined.
Sprinkle the rice starch over the shrimp and potato mixture and stir until everything is well combined.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet until it is quite hot, (you might have to adjust the heat a bit after frying the first batch).
While the oil is heating up, make the sauce.
Combine the fish sauce, tamari, lime juice, honey and sesame oil. Begin with the smaller amounts and keep adding a bit of everything until you find a balance of flavours you like. You can always lighten up the sauce a touch by adding a tablespoon or two of water.
Slice the reserved Serrano pepper and add that to the sauce. Set aside.
If you roughly chopped the shrimp, then take a tablespoon of the mixture and carefully slide it into the hot oil. Pat it down a bit with the back of the spoon to flatten it out somewhat. Form a few more cakes taking care not to crowd them too much. If you left the shrimp intact, then scoop up a tablespoon of the potato mixture and then pick out a shrimp and place that on top. Slide both into the hot oil with the shrimp on top and flatten the cake out slightly in the oil with the back of the spoon.
Fry for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is nicely browned, then carefully flip them over and fry the other side for another minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with paper towels to drain while you finish the rest.
Serve with the sauce.