Since I made some fish sauce vinaigrette, I had to make something to dip into it! My mother-in-law recently gave me some fresh baby shrimp, so I decided to do a take on cha tom, which are little shrimp cakes, perfect for dipping in fish sauce.
My recipe is by no means traditional, but I did try asking my mother-in-law how to make cha tom. The answer I got: use a little salt, a little sugar, some shallots, and some garlic. That was the whole recipe. No measurements, no instructions, nothing. It’s not just my mother-in-law who gives me recipes like this, it’s my mom too! I think it has something to do with that generation, which is a more show-and-tell, watch-and-learn cooking style. It’s frustrating, but really, I’ve never seen my mother-in-law or my mom use any measured ingredients; usually, it’s cook, season, taste, season. Really, that is the way to cook and I find I do it too when I’m cooking something I’m very familiar with.
This was my first time making cha tom and I think it tasted quite good, and Mike gave it a thumbs up too. I skewered the cooked cakes onto a stick to make it easier to dip into the fish sauce vinaigrette, plus, who doesn’t like food on a stick?
Pan-Fried Shrimp Cake Recipe
12 ounces of peeled raw baby shrimp
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons rice flour
oil for pan frying
1. Blitz the garlic and shallots in a food processor and then add the shrimp, sugar, salt, pepper and rice flour and pulse until it becomes a paste.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat and scoop the shrimp paste directly into the hot oil.
3. Flatten each scoop of shrimp paste with a spatula.
4. Pan fry both sides until golden brown, about three minutes per side.
5. Serve with fish sauce and enjoy!
Note: Originally I coated the shrimp cakes in a light dusting of rice flour when before pan-frying, but I found this didn’t improve the texture, so I left that out of the recipe. The only photos taken however, are of the rice flour covered cakes.