Food You Can Eat: Thai Shrimp Cakes in a Chili Aioli Sauce

Picture yourself floating down the Chao Praya River in Bangkok, examining the floating markets and the other river traffic, and ask, "Wasn't a James Bond movie filmed here?" "Where? what are you talking about?" "Oh, nothing."

Image and recipe via You use an egg, eggy mayonnaise, and fry them in oil, so I don't know how healthy these really are.

I stumbled on this recipe by happy accident back in March.It is from a website called, run by a registered dietician named Jamie Vespa. 

[Somewhat pointless sidenote: do you know why those mini-motorcycles that zip around Europe, especially Italy, are called “Vespas”? That is the Italian word for wasp. Isn’t that the perfect name for them?]

I am a huge fan of pescatarian cakes of all kinds, and eat but do not make my share of Thai food, so this fit the bill for me. They came out really well, and no doubt I will have made these a few times more by the time you read this. I’ve changed the recipe slightly but it is faithful to what Jamie told me to do. This allegedly feeds 4 but somehow the two of us managed to eat them all at one go. This is most assuredly not Ravenous Beast-appropriate.

For the shrimp cakes:

1 lb. peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided

2/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper [I had green; same diff]

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 1 medium shallot)

3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro [I am cilantro-averse, so I followed Jamie’s suggestion to sub in basil. I didn’t have Thai basil, so I used plain old basil, everyone’s friend.]

3 Tbsp. mayo. [I used Hellmann’s. You want something eggy.]

1 Tbsp lime juice [Your cue to get out a lime, slice it in half, then slice one of the halves in half, make a gin and tonic for your Better Half and one for you, and reserve the other half for the cakes and the aioli, see below.]

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Thai sweet chili sauce [I knew this would come in handy one day. ]

1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha) 

3 Tbsp. olive oil (or avocado oil) [I did not know that avocado oil existed so I used olive.]

For the aioli: [Jamie says this is optional but no, it’s really not, trust me, and it uses ingredients already found in the shrimp cakes]

1/2 cup mayonnaise [I used a little less of the Hellmann’s because that’s what I had left. Yes, I am so gross that I go through big jars of mayonnaise on a regular basis. Partly because I heart-emoji aiolis.

2 Tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)

1 tsp. sesame oil

[If you regularly order in Thai food and have leftover packets of accompanying sauce(s) you can use those instead of whipping up an aioli, but this is definitely worth making.]


Prepare Shrimp Cake Mixture:

Remove and discard shrimp tails. Use a sharp chef’s knife to finely chop shrimp, or pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. Place shrimp in a bowl, along with egg, 3/4 cup panko, bell pepper, shallots, cilantro/basil, mayonnaise, lime juice, fish sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, and chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha). Mix until well-combined.

Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

While shrimp mixture chills, prepare Chili Aioli by combining all aioli ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside. [It’s best if you have a small whisk and do this in a small bowl. If not, you can use a fork.]

Place remaining 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs on a large rimmed plate. Remove shrimp mixture from fridge and use a 1/3 cup measure to carefully form mixture into 8 uniform patties; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. [This is the ideal but I just grabbed little clumps with my carefully washed hands and got eight portions more or less the same size.]

Place each patty on plate with panko, and scatter with breadcrumbs until well-coated. Place coated shrimp cakes back on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 4 shrimp cakes, evenly spacing them apart. Cook for 3 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Place cooked cakes on a plate, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and repeat the process with the last 4 cakes.

Serve cakes hot with Chili Aioli and fresh herbs, if desired.


Jamie, like a good dietician, recommends serving these either in crusty rolls, like other fish cakes, or with a salad. I went all in on the Thai theme and made a quick peanut sauce using creamy peanut butter, some soy sauce, and some of the sriracha from the recipe. I added a little water. I made two sauces for my little shrimp cakes. I think we also had some baby carrots so I steamed those. My peanut sauce is probably about as “Thai” as Taco Bell is “Mexican,” but the same could be said about me. Jamie also mentions that if you make smaller patties they make for good party appetizers, and indeed they would!

PS: Yes, a James Bond movie was filmed in Bangkok. “The Man With The Golden Gun”, 1974.



  1. IMPORTANT UPDATE: I did make these a couple of times since I wrote this post but this heat! It finally broke last night after a torrential but very brief summer storm but for this last month I’ve never been less motivated to cook. I can barely open a can of tuna fish at this point. Last night for dinner I made two enormous “Italian” heroes using two cheeses and three meats that we had hanging around. The Ravenous Hound loved that (he is a big fan of deli, so he got a little of the ingredients) but Better Half had the nerve to ask me whether I had made any potato salad recently. “No,” I said, my voice no doubt cooling the air a good 10 degrees, “we’re having a tomato-avocado salad and some raspberry sorbet for dessert.” “OK, I’ll get the–” “Pinot Grigio, yes.”

  2. That looks fantastic.  I want it, right now.  In fact, I want some right now without having to put the work in to make it, so if one of you wants to stop by, be sure to stop at the market for shrimp on the way over.   kthx.

  3. How did a guy who likes loves crab cakes and shrimp not know about shrimp cakes? At least my (gastronomic) world continues to expand.

    And I’m glad to read that your peanut sauce mix is pretty much the one I use.

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