Shrimp Cakes

If you only want enough spices for one recipe and you want to use already ground spices, try the following ratio: 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt.

You can also roast the sweet potatoes in the oven, if you prefer.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 to 8 large cakes


For the spice mix:

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

For the shrimp cakes:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 tablespoons (or more) extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces peeled, cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled or fresh jalapeños, seeds discarded
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Flour for dusting (1/2 to 1 cup)


1 Make the spice mix: Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, and coriander to a heavy medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool a few minutes.

Grind spices in a blender or spice grinder (can use a coffee grinder that has been cleaned by grinding raw rice) until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in sugar and salt.

This makes about half a cup. You'll only need 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mix for one shrimp cakes recipe, so store the remainder for future use.

2 Preheat the oven to 375°F.

3 Microwave the sweet potatoes and the garlic: Pierce sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Bake in microwave for about 15 minutes until done.

Rub one tablespoon of oil over the unpeeled garlic cloves. Cook in microwave a few minutes, until soft.

Let the garlic and sweet potatoes cool enough to handle. Peel the garlic. Cut the sweet potato in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Combine the cooked sweet potato and garlic in a bowl and mash until smooth.

4 Make the shrimp mixture: Add the shrimp, cilantro, breadcrumbs, jalapeño, onion, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mix to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Mix until well blended. Season with salt.

shrimp cake mixture being stirred in bowl

5 Shape the patties: Use your hands to form the mixture into six patties, 3-inches in diameter.

6 Brown the patties: Lightly dust the shrimp cakes in flour. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, cook the shrimp cakes until nicely browned, adding more oil as needed, about 2 minutes per side.

floured shrimp cakes being fried in skillet shrimp cakes being fried in oil

7 Finish the shrimp cakes in the oven: Place the shrimp cakes on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F until heated through, about 5 minutes.

shrimp cakes on pan

8 Serve! These taste great served with lemon, tartar sauce, and coleslaw.