When I think Hawaiian food, I think of all the local delights like shave ice, scoops of macaroni salad, spam, and loco mocos. But I also think of macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi, fresh ahi poke, tender kalua pork and Kahuku shrimp dripping in garlic butter from Giovanni’s shrimp truck. I could live on this food… With these dishes and the smell of coconut oil in mind, I went into the kitchen to create a new version of shrimp cakes. I haven’t made them for a long time, and get requests for them frequently…they are one of my go to appetizers. I wanted this version to have an unmistakable Hawaiian spin with mango, papaya, coconut, and of course, if I’m making anything, it has to have spice.
Shrimp & Crab Cakes with Mango-Papaya Salsa and Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce Makes 10 Shrimp Cakes: 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined 4 ounces crab meat 1 egg 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided use juice of half a lime 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes coconut oil, for frying Salsa: 1 cup diced mango 1 cup diced papaya 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper 1 teaspoon chopped serrano pepper (optional for more spice) pinch of salt, to taste Coconut Milk Sauce: 1/2 cup diced red onion 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk 1 ounce light rum 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (chili sauce) 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic To make the shrimp cakes, roughly chop the shrimp, then transfer to a food processor. Add the crab, egg, cilantro, 1/4 cup panko, lime juice, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is completely combined, but still has texture. (Do not puree.) In a shallow dish, combine remaining 1 cup of panko with coconut flakes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out scant 1/4 cups of the mixture and form into patties, about 2 1/2 inches across, then dredge in panko-coconut mixture, pressing firmly so it adheres. Place breaded crab cakes on baking sheet and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 hours). Meanwhile, combine all the salsa ingredients and chill until needed. Just prior to frying the shrimp cakes, make the coconut milk sauce. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Sauté onions and bell peppers until soft. Add coconut milk, rum, Sriracha, ginger and garlic. Whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Reserve on stove. When ready to serve, heat 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the shrimp cakes (do this in several batches, adding more oil as needed). Fry the shrimp cakes about 2 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Serve shrimp cakes with sauce and salsa.