I love appetizers. In nicer restaurants, there seems to always be a bit more creativity during the first course and in your favorite bar, what could beat wings or spinach and artichoke dip. And honestly, eating two appetizers is often a nice way to experience a restaurant without submitting to the inevitable food coma, all while saving a few bucks. Keeping all that in mind, I’ve been focusing on coming up with can’t beat appetizers. I call it the $12 dollar test. Pretty simple: would I pay $12 dollars for this at a restaurant?
Everyone loves a crab cake. But they are a bit outdated. I’m not even 100% sure why, but something about a crab cake brings out visions of mediocre banquet food. But the idea of mixing rich, and delicious seafood into a patty with a few select flavor boosts and pan frying is sort of genius. For my seafood cake, I decided to take rough diced shrimp and pair it with a mix of sauteed corn, peppadew peppers, and onion along with the perfect seasoning, Old Bay. I went very light on the filler (breadcrumbs, mustard, mayo, egg) giving a bold shrimp flavor. Unfortunately so many seafood cakes end up being mostly breadcrumbs which is always disappointing. But not these. These were amazing.
But what really put this shrimp cake into the $12 winners circle were the simple accompaniments. Being a bit on the rich side, the cake needed some sort of balance. And nothing balances richness like acidity. Dressing arugula with a spicy lemon dressing along with a thick slice an heirloom tomato, and finally plating with a bit of balsamic reduction made for what had to be one of the top 5 dishes I have ever made. Simple as it sounds, the dish was menu ready! And what’s great is that these could be easily made smaller for hors devours. Perfect for Silver Caterers next event!