22 June 2008

Spicy Prawn Cakes

Spicy Prawn Cakes
Less than two months ago my good friend Allen of Eating Out Loud surprised me with an entry on his new nutrition-related health woes. My comment on the site may seem a little cheery (a little?) but honestly I was just trying not to get him down at the time. Now that everything's evened out and (hopefully) he's in the health groove, I can say that at the time I did feel bad and I sorely wanted to help out by searching my 3-1/2 feet stack of food magazines and cookbooks for recipes that looked good and were healthy. (Flashback to my high school days, when, every time I would ask my friend Fabian where he'd like to eat, he'd ALWAYS say, "Somewhere nutritious and delicious." I think there were times that I told him you can't have it both ways.)

The problem was, it seemed as though my constant answer to Fabian is a pervasive theme in food. Allen's new diet, at least by my deduction, should be one low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Do you know how difficult that is?! It means salads with watery dressings (or mustard or yogurt) and thick fillets of chicken, fish, or lean pork with scarcely any flavor in the middle. I've checked. It's relatively easy to make bearable low-fat food these days, but it's always the salt content that does a dish in. I got out my trusty calculator and click-clacked away with a pile of magazines beside me. Our savior for today? Good Food Magazine, published by the BBC.
I highlit this nice little ad from the magazine. I've heard of people who were bad at math, but this is just taking pandering to the extreme.

Shrimp has had a bad reputation as being high in fat and cholesterol-- in fact, even my family believes so and eat it in moderation as a result-- but the truth is, shrimp is quite healthy and can be a part of a low-fat diet. Actually, I was quite impressed by the fact sheet in the link above-- if only it weren't so expensive! That's good news for me, since shrimp is one of my favorite foods, ever (I know I say the same thing about pork, chicken, scallops, certain fish, and crabs, but trust me, eating shrimp prepared well is an absolute joy for me).

So, here's the nutrition information for this dish:
Serving size: 3 cakes
Serves: 4
Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 136 kcal
Protein: 18g
Carbohydrates: 12g (Sugars: 5g)
Fat: 2g (Percent calories from fat: 13%)
Saturated Fat: 0g
Fiber: 0g
Salt: 0.85g
If you have to limit yourself to 1.5g of sodium a day due to a hypertensive diet, then that's not too shabby a figure up there! Best of all, it tasted absolutely wonderful (my dad gave it a thumbs-up, because he couldn't talk as his mouth was stuffed)-- the curry gives it a real kick. I think I might amp up the spice some more next time by adding crushed dried chilis, just for the heck of it.

Oh, and by the way, Cooking Light is the number one food magazine in the States for a reason. Good Food magazine is also extremely health-conscious (just watch those desserts by Gary Rhodes and company). Crap magazine? Taste of Home's Light and Tasty (I think it has been replaced by "Healthy Cooking Magazine"-- I hope the quality has been improved, and then some). The food doesn't look good, is mostly loaded with low-fat substitutes like low-fat mayonnaise on every other recipe (who wants to eat that much mayo, even if it's low-fat? News flash: mayo doesn't taste that great. If it disappeared tomorrow I wouldn't miss it). The low-sodium recipes listed on the index are also mostly side-dishes. Very disappointing.

Spicy Prawn Cakes
This is mainly a starter, but I served it as a main course with a little white rice. It's also great with greens on the side. The original recipe called for peeled frozen tiger prawns, but I've had packaged frozen prawns from the States before and they are dreadfully bland. Nothing compares to fresh shrimp, even if I have to decapitate, peel, and devein 30 of them.

  • 200g (7oz) raw peeled tiger prawns (I used about 30 medium shrimp)

  • 200g (7oz) skinless, boneless white fish fillets, roughly chopped (I used cobbler)

  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 4 spring onions, sliced thinly

  • cooking spray

Place the prawns, fish, curry paste and cornstarch in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Stiry in the spring onions then chill the mixture for 30 minutes. Using your hands, shape the prawn mixture into 12 small cakes (it will be about only 2 inches across). Spray a large nonstick frying pan with cooking spray and place on medium-high heat. Cook the prawn cakes, 2 minutes on each side, until browned and firm (I let them go for about 3-1/2 minutes a side-- the texture will not be too adversely affected).

Dipping sauce:
  • juice of 1 lime

  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili dipping sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

Mix everything together. Ta-da

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