The Shrimp Cakes
- 300 grams peeled & deveined shrimp *
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp red curry paste
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, centre rib removed and very thinly julienned
- ½ cup long beans, chopped into ¼" pieces. You can also do a combination of long beans and corn.
- Approximately 1 tsp fish sauce **
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- oil for frying (I use canola oil)
- Fresh cucumber slices for serving
The Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 spur chili, chopped into small pieces, or you can sub ¼ of a red bell pepper or other mild red chilies.
- 1 clove garlic
- Thai chilies, to taste, optional
- 1-2 Tbsp roasted, crushed peanuts, optional
- Cilantro for garnish, optional
To make the shrimp cakes: Add the coconut milk to a sauté pan and bring to a boil. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, to reduce the liquid until it becomes a thick paste. Let it cool completely in the freezer while you prep other ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, add the cooled curry paste, chopped long beans, corn (if using), kaffir lime leaves, sugar, and fish sauce.
Grind the shrimp and the egg in a food processor until very fine. Add the shrimp mixture to the mixing bowl and stir everything together until well mixed. Put this mixture in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, while you make the dipping sauce.
For the dipping sauce: Pound together the chilies and the garlic into a paste and transfer the mixture into a small pot. Add the sugar and vinegar to the pot and let simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken. The mixture will also thicken as it cools. While the dipping sauce is cooling, shape and fry the shrimp cakes.
To shape the shrimp cakes: Divide the shrimp cake into about 1 Tbsp portions using a small disher or a tablespoon measure. Once done, put the panko into a wide, shallow bowl. Wet your hands with some water, roll each shrimp cake portion into a ball, and drop the ball into the panko. If you want to make larger pieces, shape them into patties rather than balls so they cook faster. Continue rolling until there's no more room in the panko bowl. Spoon the panko over the shrimp cake to cover, and with dry, clean hands, grab each shrimp cake and gently press the panko onto the surface and set them on another plate.
To fry the shrimp cakes: Add frying oil to a pot until it's at least 1" deep. Heat the oil to 350 F. Drop the shrimp cake and fry for a few minutes, they will puff up and may crack slightly, which is expected. Once they are a nice golden brown colour, after a few minutes, put them on a paper towel-lined plate. They will continue to cook after they've been removed from the oil, and the colour will continue to darken from golden to brown. You can cut one open to check for doneness, but don't cut it right out of the oil - let it sit for a minute first so the residual heat can finish cooking them.
To serve: Right before serving, add the crushed peanuts and chopped cilantro to the dipping sauce and serve along side the shrimp cake. Serve these with some fresh cucumber slices to add a touch of crunch and freshness!
Do Ahead Tip: You can make the mixture, shape, and bread the shrimp cake the day before and keep them covered in the fridge. You can also make the dipping sauce several days ahead of time, keeping them in the fridge.
* It is best to use fresh shrimp for this recipe because commercially frozen shrimp have an ice glaze around them to protect the shrimp, and when they thaw, the melted ice will make the shrimp wet and will cause your mixture to be too runny. If you have to use frozen shrimp, thaw them the day before you need them and lay them on a tray lined with lots of paper towel to dry them off. Keep this tray over night in the fridge, uncovered, so the water around the shrimp evaporates.
** The amount of fish sauce you need will depend on how salty your curry paste is. For your first time making this recipe, I recommend mixing everything without the fish sauce, and then cook a small amount of the mixture on a frying pan or in the microwave to taste, so you know where you're starting from.