A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a culinary demonstration arranged by the Royal Thai Embassy and the Philippine Thai Cultural Organization. Because Thai cuisine is one of my favorites, I was delighted to learn how to prepare some dishes, from no less than the embassy chefs.
One of these was the seafood and glass noodle salad we featured on Oct. 2.
Now here’s another dish from the cooking demonstration: fried shrimp cake.
I was surprised to find how the chefs actually cooked it. For one thing, they used pork fat as binder. (I always thought shrimp cake was made purely of shrimps.)
For another, they added finely chopped coriander roots and leaves to the mixture, which may be one reason the dish is so tasty.
Quite a challenge
I tried to cook the recipe at home, and I must admit that while the embassy chefs made it look so easy, it can be quite a challenge for one who’s cooking it for the first time. Kneading the ingredients into a fine mixture, for instance, took time and energy.
I also had a difficult time finding the pork fat in the market. Not many butchers sell it. Luckily, I found some packaged pork fat at WalterMart supermarket in Makati City; after I trimmed the skin from the fat, this was what I used.
Shrimp cake is one of my all-time favorites, which I always order in a Thai restaurant.
While I learned some of the techniques during the cooking demo, I’ll have to do a lot of practice if I want to cook it as well as the Royal Thai Embassy chefs.
Fried shrimp cake
½ k fresh shrimps, medium size
150 g pork fat
3 stems coriander (wansuy) roots and leaves, crushed or finely chopped (see tips)
2 tbsp sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ c fresh milk
1-2 c bread crumbs
Cooking oil, for deep frying
Sweet plum sauce, for dipping
Peel the shrimps and discard the heads and shells. Freeze the shrimps for a few hours. Pound the pork fat until smooth and pliable. When the shrimps are frozen, grind them and mix with the pork fat.
Add the coriander, sugar, salt, pepper, light soy sauce and sesame oil. Knead or mix until well-blended and smooth.
Shape the mixture into small balls, then flatten the balls to form small cakes or patties. Dip the patties lightly in the fresh milk, then roll in bread crumbs. Be sure both sides of the patties are evenly covered in bread crumbs.
Heat the cooking oil in frying pan and fry the patties until golden yellow, turning frequently so they cook evenly. Transfer the patties as they cook to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with sweet plum sauce.
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This needs advanced preparation since the shrimps need to be frozen (after being peeled). Allot a few hours for the shrimps to freeze before starting to prepare the dish.
For the coriander: Try to find stems with roots attached. The roots impart a refreshing fragrance and flavor. If the roots are large, trim off the hard parts and use only the soft, inner parts.
Use only medium heat when frying the shrimp patties so the bread crumbs covering the shrimp patties become crisp.
Pork fat is available in wet markets and in some supermarkets. Try WalterMart on Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.
Bottled sweet plum sauce is available in the condiments section of large supermarkets and in specialty shops.