I absolutely love my seafood, and love experimenting with fish other than salmon (which is my go-to fish). This recipe is so incredibly fresh and seriously herbacious (after all, it has parsley, cilantro, and basil!) with the perfect citrus addition from the lemon zest and juice. I recently packed these into my picnic basket for a grassy lunch soiree since they are so little, cute, and transportable once cooked! These are best served over some peppery arugula, with any ginger-soy sauce combination, or even a smidgen of tartar sauce or chipotle mayo! You can even go commando on these and eat them as is, hot off the skillet.
Yields: enough for 4-6 people for appetizers/snacks!
4 tablespoons butter (or 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil), divided
1/2 lb. fresh bay scallops
1/2 lb. shrimp, any size, peeled and deveined
1/2-3/4 medium red onion, chopped (depending on your taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
6 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (can be herb-seasoned, italian-seasoned, or plain!)
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.
Place the following into a food processor: onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Now add parsley, cilantro, basil leaves, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, lemon zest, Kosher salt, pepper and pulse on medium setting until finely chopped. Now add scallops and shrimp into food processor, and pulse on low. Gradually pour in breadcrumbs, continuing to pulse until the mixture starts to firm up, but it should still be moist and somewhat sticky from the eggs. Do not pulse it to a point where the seafood loses it’s texture completely if possible.You want your cake to have texture and be chunky, instead of feeling like a seafood mousse cake.
Form the mixture into palm-size patties (to get a professional look, use mold rings, and make sure the cakes are about 1 inch thick (any thicker and you will have to cook them longer).
[Note: at this point in the process, if you feel like the texture of your mixture is not right, adjust it by adding more breadcrumbs (if it is too liquidy) or add more olive oil or egg to moisten it (if you feel it is too hard/firm). Moisture is coming from many different sources in this recipe – the seafood itself, eggs, lemon juice, vegetables – and sometimes small variances in size / type can affect the consistency of the mixture].
Place on a plate, cover with parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour so they can harden a bit. If you want to store them for a few hours, you can cut out little squares of parchment paper and stack the fish cakes on top of each other with a sheet of parchment paper between each cake. [If you want to make extra sure they won’t stick, use cooking spray on each side of each sheet as insurance!]
Remove cakes from fridge and heat 2 tablespoons of butter (which adds a richness to the taste) -but if you are trying to stay heart-healthy, use 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil instead, in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook the fish cakes in batches (using a fish spatula if possible) until the cakes are golden brown on both sides, and the fish cakes are cooked through and hot in the center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The key to perfectly moist fish cakes is to not overcook them! It’s ok to leave them ever-so-slightly undercooked to retain that lovely moisture.
Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm in the pre-heated oven. Wipe the skillet clean and then cook the remaining cakes as above, using the remaining butter or 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Wine Pairing: Any buttery Chardonnay! But make sure it’s chilled 🙂