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Shrimp & Scallop Cakes

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Serves 4 as a main course or up to 24 as an hors d'oeuvre

Yields 8 full-size cakes or 24 bite-size cakes

The trick to making great fish cakes is to buy fresh ingredients, handle them gently, season with restraint, and pan-fry until you’ve got a crisp, brown crust and a succulent center.

  • 2 whole star anise
  • 4 Tbs. peanut or canola oil; more as needed for frying
  • 2 cups stemmed and sliced (1/4-inch-thick) shiitake mushrooms (from about two 3-1/2-oz. packages)
  • 1/2 lb. shrimp, any size, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 lb. fresh dry-packed sea scallops
  • 2 Tbs. mirin (sweetened rice wine)
  • 2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus 8 cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions (both white and green parts; about 2 scallions)
  • Gingered Soy Sauce

      

Tip:
To make mini cakes, simply portion the mixture into 24 small mounds, shape into cakes, and press a small cilantro leaf on each one. Cook as directed in the recipe.

Grind the star anise in a clean electric coffee grinder.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shiitakes and sauté, stirring as needed, until cooked through, golden, and slightly crisp around the edges, 5 to 7 min. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool, and then coarsely chop.

Coarsely chop the shrimp and transfer to a large bowl. Put the scallops in a food processor and purée until smooth. Add the scallops to the bowl of shrimp. Add 1 tsp. of the star anise, along with the shiitakes, mirin, cilantro, scallions, sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Combine well using a rubber spatula—don’t worry about overmixing. Cover the bowl and chill for 30 min. or more. Discard any remaining ground star anise or save for another use.

Turn the mixture out onto a baking sheet and portion it into eight equal mounds. With wet hands, shape each mound into a flattened cake about 2-1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Press a cilantro leaf, nice side up, onto the top of each cake.

Heat the oven to 200°F. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula, transfer four of the cakes to the pan with the cilantro-leaf side down. Cook until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through, turning once or twice with a spatula, 5 to 6 min. total cooking time. Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm in the oven. Wipe the skillet clean and then cook the remaining cakes as above, using the remaining 1 Tbs. oil.

Serve hot, with ramekins of the Gingered Soy Sauce for dipping.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings without sauce; Calories (kcal): 290; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 2.5; Protein (g): 27; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 7; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 420; Cholesterol (mg): 140; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Very good! I used some inexpensive frozen shrimp and scallops that I had on hand, and they worked great. I left out the mirin and the shitakes, because I didn't have any. They make great hors d'oeuvres.

I took these cakes as my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner hors d'ouvres. They were devoured in minutes to rave reviews and requests for the recipe. I will definitely make them again.

We loved these! I think they're easy to make, really appealing to look at and taste delicious! DH and DD (only 2 1/2 yrs) and me all loved them! I will make again; made for a party but we were all a bit sick - so canceled party. We ended up eating them the next day...but I definitely plan on making for re-scheduled party.

I was disappointed. A lot of work for rubbery cakes. The Ginger-Soy Dipping sauce was excellent but overpowered the cakes.

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