Vidalia Onion Shrimp Cakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Shrimp is one of my favorite go-to foods for several reasons: they’re quick cooking, generally economical (I can usually find shrimp priced around $5-7 per pound in the seafood section of my local Publix), theyare easily portioned into small amounts, my picky 5 year old is a big fan, and–of course– they’re tasty! Since just plain old ordinary shrimp get boring, here was my attempt to mix things up the other evening. These shrimp cakes, inspired by crab cakes, and flavored with sweet Vidalia onion & fresh basil, are a really tasty change of pace!

I have a half a bag of Vidalia Onions straight from South Georgia, that my Mom brought me.  If you’re not familiar with Vidalia onions, they are a sweet onion, that is fabulously mild and sweet, even raw…  This dish takes advantage of the properties of the sweet onions, both raw and cooked.  Cooked with garlic and incorporated into the shrimp cake, then raw in the yogurt sauce.

Some Notes:

  • These are both kid and adult friendly, but I might up the spiciness if I was cooking for just an adult audience.  Maybe a touch of cajun seasonings or a dash of tobasco in with the shrimp mixture.
  • This recipe makes 6 cakes (enough for a light dinner for me, the husband and the boy) but can be easily increased for a larger group. Mini versions of these would make a great dinner party appetizer, too…
  • Use the food processor for multiple steps in this recipe — saves time since you already have it out.  Could be done by just chopping everything with a knife, I suppose, but a food processor works well.
  • The other inspiration for the flavorings of these was the bunch of fresh basil that Rawls gaves me… If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, try maybe something like cilantro, or whatever you’ve got that works well with shrimp.

Read on for the recipe!

Vidalia Onion Shrimp Cakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

(Serves 2-3)

  • 2/3 lb shrimp (peeled/deveined)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 egg ~5 fresh basil leaves
  • scant cup bread crumbs

Yogurt Sauce:

  • ~1/2 cup plain yogurt, greek is best.  Place in a strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth for at least 20 minutes to strain off any excess liquid (the thicker the better).  Non-fat works fine for this application.
  • ~1/2 small cucumber
  • ~1/2 medium Vidalia Onion
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves
  • Dash white wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • (optional: 1/4 to 1/3 c crumbled feta cheese)

If not using greek yogurt for the sauce, strain your yogurt ahead of time for best results–even the night before if you’re planning ahead…

Prep the Patties

In food processor, process onion and garlic for several pulses, until fine-medium chopped.  (If you like, use a knife to chop a little of the onion into larger chunks for texture–this was done in the pictured cakes.)
Drizzle a little olive oil in a non stick skillet and cook onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until softened and fragrant.

Remove from heat and let cool.

Put shrimp and basil in food processor and pulse several times, until shrimp is coarsely chopped.
In a large bowl, combine shrimp/basil, cooked onions/garlic, egg and bread crumbs, stir together.  Mixture should be sticky.
Sprinkle more breadcrumbs or some cornmeal on a platter or cutting board large enough to hold 6 shrimp patties  (this is just to stop the
patties from sticking to the plate.
Make up 6 patties, and place them on top of the cornmeal covered platter.  Place in fridge while you make up the sauce.

Prepare Yogurt Sauce

Rinse out your food processor bowl and add chunks of cucumber and onion and basil leaves.   Pulse together several times until medium
chopped.  Combine with yogurt, several squirts of white wine vinegar.  Generously add salt and pepper, tasting.  Stir to combine.  If you want it creamier, add more yogurt.  If it seems too liquidy (your veggies add liquid to the mixture, but one can never tell exactly how much), strain again in a strainer lined with cheesecloth–place in fridge while you’re preparing the rest of the meal… it should be strained by the time you’re done.  Stir in the optional feta cheese, if desired.

Cook the Shrimp Cakes

In a large non-stick skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Place each patty in the pan (I can fit all six in mine
with a little room around each — if your fit is tighter, do multiple batches).  Cook approximately 3 minutes on each side (cut open one to
confirm doneness–shrimp should no longer be opaque.) — each side should be nicely tan.

Serve with the yogurt sauce, with a lovely side dish like corn on the cob, and maybe a nice green salad and some fresh summer tomatoes.

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