Kitchen Failure Hall of Fame: Shrimp Cakes

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been lucky in the kitchen. Freakishly lucky. My pizzas have slid easily onto their stones, my seasonings have mostly meshed, and aside from the occasional sauce slip-up, everything’s gone more or less according to plan.

This is not how my life is.

So, I’m bringing things back down to earth with a little trip down kitchen disaster memory lane. First up: shrimp cakes.

For a couple of years, before either one of us really cooked, Pete and I were obsessed with these fish cakes from our local Whole Foods. There were a few different varieties — crab, some kind of whitefish — but we especially loved the shrimp cakes with green onions, which we’d sear on the stove and serve with couscous and a salad for a super-simple, delicious dinner.

But the cakes were pricey — definitely one of those packaged foods where you pay for the convenience. So when we got a food processor for our wedding, I went searching for a shrimp cake recipe. I don’t remember which recipe I found, but I know it looked simple, and besides, I’d checked the ingredients on the Whole Foods package and all it listed was shrimp, onions, bread crumbs, egg, maybe milk, and some seasonings. How hard could it be?

It’s worth noting that at this point in my life, I could confidently make approximately three recipes. I also had never had a food processor, and I didn’t even particularly want one; I wanted a blender, and the food processor attachment just came along for the ride.

So anyway. Into the belly of the food processor went some thawed frozen shrimp, chopped green onions, and a bunch of bread crumbs. I hit the “grind” button and hoped for the best.

I did not get the best.

I got shrimp smoothie.

Much like Theodora’s recent bean burger experiment, I did not just gently crush the shrimp; I obliterated them to the point that they could be sucked through a straw. Unlike Theodora’s bean burgers, I could not salvage them — not even after some eggs, what seemed like a whole loaf of bread crumbs, and a lot of pretending the whole thing never happened.

I’m pretty sure we ate sandwiches that night.


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