Shrimp Cakes with Asparagus Salsa ~ these crispy tender shrimp cakes with their unique salsa is one of the most luxuriously healthy meals I’ve ever made!
I’m heading down to Florida next week to visit my Dad and that always gets me anticipating all the great food I’m in for. Of course I love my dad and that’s the main reason I go, but over the years that we’ve been going down to visit him I’ve come to really appreciate Florida’s unique food culture. It’s so colorful and vibrant — it’s a little bit Caribbean, a little bit Southern, with influences from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Spain — I really respond to all the fruits and seafood, and how everything is incredibly fresh and beautifully presented. It’s not unusual to get your chicken salad sandwich with a fresh orchid on the side!
Fish and seafood cakes are one of my favorite Florida type things. These shrimp cakes are tender and so packed with shrimp, they almost fall apart in your mouth. Onion, colorful bell peppers, cilantro and a little hot pepper gives them a real kick. I think this is a nice way to give shrimp, which can be bland, a little ‘personality’.
The asparagus salsa is my own invention, and it pairs perfectly with the cakes. I used the tiny skinny kind, blanched it for just a few seconds, and then tossed it with classic salsa ingredients like red onions, lime, and cilantro.
The important thing for both the cakes and the salsa is to get all the ingredients finely chopped. You can do this in a food processor but I prefer the neater look of hand chopping.
- 1 lb shell on shrimp
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup finely minced colorful bell peppers
- 1 small chili pepper, minced, seeds and all (I used a thai chili pepper, you can use a small jalapeno or Serrano)
- 1/4 red onion, finely minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, plus extra for coating
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (more if you like)
- 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp salt
- lots of fresh cracked black pepper (1/2 tsp or to taste)
- a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- olive oil for frying
- 1 bunch of very thin asparagus
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1/3 cup colorful bell pepper, finely minced
- juice of 1 lime
- chopped cilantro to taste
- pinch of salt
- Peel the shrimp and de-vein. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the shrimp until just turning pink on both sides, but not curling tightly. This should only take two minutes.
- Put the shrimp and any juices in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the machine 12 times until the shrimp is well chopped, but hasn't turned to paste. You want the mixture to retain some texture.
- Put the shrimp and all the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil) into a bowl and mix gently but thoroughly.
- Using a 1/4 cup measure, form the mix into patties, gently pressing it together as you form them. Coat each patty with more breadcrumbs, just pat them on with your hand if they are very delicate. Set on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more to allow the patties to set up a bit.
- Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat on medium high. When the oil is hot, cook the shrimp cakes until they are golden on each side. This should take about 5 minutes per side.
- To make the salsa, trim the ends off the asparagus and blanch it in boiling water. To do this, bring a pan of water to a boil, drop the asparagus in, and after about 30 seconds, take it out and plunge it into a bowl of ice water. This takes the raw 'edge' off the asparagus and brightens the color. DO NOT leave the asparagus in the boiling water any longer than 30 seconds, and do not wait for the water to come back to a boil or you will get limp asparagus.
- Pat the asparagus dry and chop it into very small slices. Toss with the minced onion, bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro and salt and mix well. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Refrigerate until needed.
- Serve the shrimp cakes hot on a bed of lettuce, topped with the salsa.
Make sure you mince your onion and peppers very finely for these cakes. If the pieces are too large the cakes will not hold together. If you like you can use a food processor to do the job, but I prefer the neater look of chopping them by hand.