Shrimp Cakes (and a Vegetable Encyclopedia) to Die For

Made my first-ever shrimp burger today for a light lunch. Yum! Came up with the recipe myself, with a little help from a groovy 1960's cookbook.

Here's the finished product, with a little baby arugula and the first few cherry tomatoes of the season from the backyard garden. Um, totally delicious. Tooting my horn. Tooooot toooooot!

(To be honest, these are more like shrimp cakes. I don't feel a need to go heavy on the binding ingredients, nor am I into pulverizing my seafood, but they can be used as burgers if you're not picky about bit of shrimp falling hither and thither.)

Instead of food processing the shrimp to a pulp, I wanted the loosely bound, sauteed-'til-golden, hand-diced shrimp to fall succulently into my waiting fork, much like Daryl Hannah falls succulently into the waiting arms of Charlie Sheen in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, which (watched it last night -- WOW), if you haven't seen it since it came out 22 years ago, rent that sucker -- you're in for a glossy 80's TREAT. 

Key moments in Wall Street to enjoy:

1. The big home decorating montage once Bud Fox gets rich, with so much teal, exposed brick, faux finish, gold leaf, and bad art that you will cry.
2. Charlie Sheen (as Bud Fox) making nigiri sushi rice ovals with a ridiculous hand-cranked rice ball machine while the stereo cranks "This Must Be the Place" by the Talking Heads; meanwhile Daryl Hannah stumbles around with a goblet of white wine, rinsing shrimp, assessing raw oysters on the half shell, and pulling fresh noodles from a pasta machine.
3. And of course, Gordon Gekko's "Greed is Good" speech, which skewers a boardroom full of corporate VPs for their bloated salaries. Ahem.

Anyway, there's your "dinner and a movie" recommendation, for no real reason in particular except that it's on my mind, and now to the recipe!

Yum Diary Shrimp Cakes
Serves 4 as an entree, 6-8 as a starter
prep time: 30 min
cook time: 5 min

-1 lb. Peeled and deveined (wild-caught) jumbo shrimp, rinsed, patted completely dry, then diced into 1/2-inch pieces

Sprinkle liberally the following on your shrimp:
-1 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
-1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
-1/2 tsp. "Adobo" powdered seasoning

Then combine the following in a bowl to make your binding mixture:
-1-2 scallions, finely diced
-1 egg, beaten
-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce
-1 tsp. Dijon mustard
-1 tbsp. Mayonnaise
-3 full sprigs of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced
-1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
-1/4 cup breadcrumbs
-1 tbsp. Shrimp stock (if you've got it -- I just simmer my shrimp shells in a cup of water with a bay leaf for a half hour)

Fold in the diced, seasoned shrimp (which you can prep a day ahead and store in the fridge well-wrapped against oxygen permeation and covered with an ice pack). Mix well. Strain excess liquid (this will be necessary).

Then heat a skillet to medium and add the following for each burger-sized cake (less for appetizer-sized cakes):
-1 tsp. Peanut or other high temperature oil
-1/2 tbsp. Butter

When oil/butter mixture is hot, spoon a burger-sized amount of shrimp mix onto the skillet and pat it flat so that each cake is only about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Fry on both sides til golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes total, give or take a minute or two.

Squeeze the juice of a quarter lemon per burger-sized cake and serve with mild, lightly dressed greens. (Watch out -- I found arugula to be too overpowering, actually!)

Inspiration was taken from The Shrimp Cookbook by Alex D. Hawkes, found on ABE Books online while hunting for more cookbooks by the author.

While this 1966 volume is a little cheesy and cocktail party-ish, I had good reason to go hunting for Hawkes online.

Last year I found his gorgeous, incredibly informative volume, A World of Vegetable Cookery (Simon and Schuster, 1968) for $1.00 at a tiny thrift shop in Mill Valley, CA.

I had hit a cookbook jackpot.

The book is sparsely and beautifully illustrated, covering encyclopedically the world of vegetables normal and strange, with info on provenance, usage, history, and even a few recipes.

It's like a cross between the Food Lovers' Companion and On Food and Cooking, but devoted exclusively to vegetables -- from akee and annatto to nasturtium and okra, and on to talinum, taro, tomato, topi-tambo, and turnip, to finish with zucchini, an old friend.

If you come across this book, snag it! It's been invaluable.

Now I just have to figure out how to dig up a kudzu tuber. The book is full of info on the use of the root of this ubiquitous, 50-ft vine in Asian cooking. However, there's no mention of the wide, fat leaves, which I've heard you can cook.

Anyone know anything about frying kudzu leaves?

photos: TB


  1. A handful of kudzu recipes here (including salsa made with stems!?):


  2. Detox be damned. I want that shrimp burger!

    I do remember the cook at the Cock N Bull telling me he used Panko bread crumbs. I want to try yours!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts