Pan-Fried Shrimp Cake Recipe

pan fried shrimp cakes with fish sauce

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.

shrimp cakes

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.

a tasty afternoon snack

12 Comments add yours

  1. Shrimp cakes on a Stick is brilliant… great post!

    Thanks! Who doesn’t love food on a stick?!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 1:03 pm
  2. YUMMY!! These look great.

    Thanks! They were a fast and tasty snack.

    steph on February 17th, 2010 at 1:41 pm
  3. I love shrimp cakes like these. Seriously, I could make an entire meal of them. Can you please pass a few my way? ;)

    Shrimp cakes are good, and they disappear so fast! Next time I make some, feel free to come on up! We’ll have a big shrimp cake feast!

    steph on February 17th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
  4. These look fantastic!

    Thanks, hope you have a chance to give the recipe a try!

    steph on February 18th, 2010 at 1:40 pm
  5. I’m going to try this tomorrow for dinner !!!

    Yum! Let me know how it goes!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:51 pm
  6. Thanks!
    They were amazing my family loved it. However instead of pan frying them I baked them in the oven.

  7. Great idea to use fish sauce vinaigrette! Guess I know what we are having for dinner.

    Sheila Piala on March 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm
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