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August 17, 2007 / Tony

Coconut-Lime Shrimp over Black Bean Cakes

For our entree, I created a fusion dish of Mexican and Asian flavors.  Here are the three recipes:

Black Bean Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Sauce, courtesy of Sara Moulton on here

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 2/3 cups cooked black beans

2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup yellow cornmeal

Vegetable oil, for frying

Spicy Cilantro Sauce, recipe follows

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.  In a bowl, mash 1/3 of the beans with a fork and stir in the remaining beans, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the eggs.  Form bean mixture into 8 (4-inch) patties (mixture will be wet and soft.).  Gently dredge patties in cornmeal and transfer to a large plate lined with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the cakes for 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.  Pour enough oil into a heavy skillet to reach 1/4-inch up the side.  Heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Working in batches, cook the patties, turning once, until well browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Transfer the cakes to paper towels to drain.

Divide the cakes among plates and serve with the sauce.


Spicy Cilantro Sauce

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 jalapeno chile, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stir together cilantro, vegetable oil, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, and chile.  Season with salt and pepper.


1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)

2 teaspoons golden brown sugar

20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled, deveined.

Blend first 8 ingredients in processor until almost smooth.  Transfer marinade to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.  Add shrimp and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.


Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).  Thread 5 shrimp onto each of 4 skewers.  Grill until just cooked through, basting with marinade, about 2 minutes per side.


The combination of these recipes was very tasty.  What made it especially good was the Spicy Cilantro Sauce.  It just sang on the plate with the acidity from the lime juice and soy sauce.  Paired with cilantro, garlic, and just a little heat, it provided a definite “wow” factor on the plate.  I can see using this recipe over virtually any grilled meat.  As for this application, it definitely picked up the flavor of the black bean cakes, which would have been a little bland on their own.  Although, the cornmeal crust turned out wondefully crispy.  The shrimp was flavorful but, due to my failure to have skewers around, were not quite cooked to perfection.  I probably undercooked a little bit in my haste to make sure they didn’t overcook and they were just a tad bit gummy.  However, the lime and coconut flavors were a natural complement to the sweet flavor of the shrimp.  All in all, it was a fairly successful dish.  Here’s a picture:


ADDED:  A picture of a subsequent attempt at this recipe (with a few modifications) can be found here

ADDED:  More pictures of plating can be found here.  Also, Katelyn came up with the great idea of making smaller black bean cakes.  Not only did were they easier to handle, the surface to mass ratio increased do the cakes were actually crispier on the whole, which made this dish even yummier. 


Coconut-Lime Shrimp, via Epicurious here


Leave a Comment
  1. Katelyn / Oct 1 2007 2:26 pm

    amazing! this is my all time new favorite meal!!!

  2. Kristin / Aug 6 2008 3:16 pm

    Tony, this is the best meal EVER! I’ve been meaning to tell you how much Chuck and I enjoy your recipes–we’ve made many–but this is inspiring. I want to put the cilantro sauce on everything. Hope life is treating you well!

  3. Tony / Aug 10 2008 6:18 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Kristin. I’m very pleased that you liked the dish so much. I’m very well and hope all is well with you.


  1. Coconut-Lime Shrimp over Black Bean Cakes Redux « Busy Nothings
  2. Coconut Marinated Salmon over Refried Black Beans with Spicy Cilantro Sauce « Busy Nothings

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