It’s been hot. Very hot. I guess that’s summer for you though, right? But the heat and humidity over the last several weeks—the great heatwave—has been intense. Monday and Tuesday were the first days I’ve seen temperatures in the 70’s in I don’t know how long. My canna and (ornamental) sweet potato vines have been loving it, but I’m afraid they stand alone on that—if you ask me anyway.
Finding something to eat in this weather can be a struggle. I mean this in the truest sense of first-world problems—there’s not a scarcity or famine by any means, so I still count ourselves lucky—but thinking and cooking up something crave-able has been a chore. The thought of pulling the grill out makes me tired and sweat. It’s summer, but the idea alone of eating something heavy and hot seems to make the air thicker and sun rays more intense than they already are. I just want to sit in front of the air vent and eat lemon sorbet until the leaves start to fall from the trees.
But one cannot live on lemon sorbet alone… Or so I’m told. And I still need something filling enough to reenergize me, and something to make to keep me sane. This is where my Shrimp Cake Salad with Lime Dressing comes in. There is some actual cooking involved—Fire + Food—but being that we’re talking shrimp, you know it’s minimal. It’s minimal cooking time serves a dual purpose, too; you’re standing in front of a hot pan for a short amount of time, which means you and your house don’t heat up as much, and because it takes hardly any time at all to both prep and cook you don’t need to muster up much energy to convince yourself to actually cook dinner (i.e. you’re not contemplating to just say “screw it” by calling those burgers you were going to make “beef tartar” in favor of not starting a grill and turning on the stove). Can you tell I don’t do well in the heat?
Making shrimp cakes, to me, is not that different than making CRAB CAKES; they should be mostly shrimp, with only enough “filler” to hold them together, here the “filler” being a bit of panko bread crumbs. The shrimp gets pulverized the processor. I do this by throwing half in and pulsing it to rough chunks before adding the rest in and pulsing some more; this way, the first half of shrimp is ground finely while the second stays chunky. Flavoring it with lime zest, red chili, cilantro and green onion give it a bright zing that the gentle, almost sweet, shrimp meat craves.
I scoop them into little balls, and chill them a bit before rolling them in panko and pressing them into little patties. Frying them in the thinnest layer of oil makes them crisp on the outside and tender within; the perfect contrast to crisp and tender baby greens, soft and green chunks of avocado, and a punchy dressing.
The dressing itself is much the same as the flavors in the cakes; lime zest and juice, a bit of fish sauce, cilantro, and chilies. The whole dish is filling enough to sustain you, but bright and lively enough to not weigh you down, and for me the flavors of lime, cilantro and chili—especially with seafood—is part of the summer canon.
So beat the heat with this fresh and summery salad. Or, at the very least, forget about it for a little while.
And while your snacking on shrimp cakes in front of the air vent, make sure to follow me on BLOGLOVIN’!