Crispy Rice with Spicy Shrimp Salad combines the crunch of crispy rice cakes topped with a delicious spicy shrimp and mayo salad. If you're craving sushi, but don't want the hefty price tag, this recipe will be your new favorite.
I love sushi, but honestly, I can't always stomach the cost of it. And usually, I'm a little nervous to try making my own. Finding good sashimi grade tuna or salmon can be hard and the health concerns of preparing the raw fish is enough to turn me off.
But this spicy shrimp salad recipe is perfect since it uses cooked shrimp (no worries about bad fish!) and the crispy rice bites truly mimic the taste of a sushi roll you'd find in your favorite Japanese restaurant (but better, IMHO). It's a total game changer if you want to try making "sushi" at home without the risk!
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy. You'd think this would be a difficult dish to make - after all, making a sushi roll takes a bit of work. But cooking the sushi rice, then chilling it and cutting it into squares is a cinch. And the spicy shrimp salad is easy to toss together.
- So delicious! The spicy mayo sauce tossed with the shrimp gives the shrimp salad some extra kick and tons of flavor. And the seasoned cooked sushi rice, lightly fried, is the perfect base for serving it all up.
- Perfect as an appetizer or a main dish. I love making this crispy rice appetizer to start off an asian meal, but we've also eaten on it's own as a main dish, with a small green or seaweed salad on the side.
- Looks impressive. Your guests will ooh and aah over how great this dish looks. It's a beautiful presentation.
Most of the ingredients for this spicy tuna crispy rice recipe are fairly straightforward and should be pretty easy to find.
- Sushi Rice. You may be tempted to use regular white rice, but sushi rice really is a necessity here. Sushi rice is a short or medium grain rice which produces a sticky consistency when cooked. If you can't find Japanese sushi rice, look for a short grain rice in a pinch. But definitely don't use long-grain rice. It doesn't have enough starch for it to become sticky rice and will fall apart when you try to make the rice cakes.
- Rice Vinegar, Water, Sugar and Salt. These ingredients will be mixed into the rice to help season it.
- Oil and butter. This is what you'll fry the rice cakes in. Use a neutral flavored oil, like avocado or grapeseed oil to avoid altering the flavor of the crispy rice.
- Shrimp. You'll want your shrimp to be cooked and finely chopped, with any tails or shells removed.
- Mayo. Some recipes recommend using kewpie mayonnaise, which is a common Japanese mayo. You can find this in most Asian grocery stores, but if you don't want to bother, just use regular mayo. (This is what I use and the spicy mayonnaise comes out perfect each time.)
- Chili paste or gochujang. This is a spicy red pepper paste that you can typically find in standard grocery stores and adds lots of heat to the shrimp salad.
- Lemon zest, jalapeno, and green onions. You'll add these to the shrimp salad to add some extra texture and flavor.
- Avocado, sliced. Creamy avocado adds a great texture to each bite and helps to mellow the spiciness a bit.
- Soy sauce, extra sliced jalapeno and sesame seeds. These all act as delicious garnishes and are the perfect finishing touches to the dish.
How To Make Crispy Rice With Spicy Shrimp Salad
There are a few steps involved in making this dish, but they're all very easy.
- Rinse your rice. This is an important step since it takes away some of the excess starchiness of the rice. And, while we want the rice to be sticky, we don't want it to be too gummy or soft. Rinsing the rice well before cooking it will help prevent that.
- Add the rice seasoning. In a medium saucepan, combine water, rinsed rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Over medium-high heat, bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the rice is tender.
- Chill the rice. Transfer the seasoned rice to an 8-inch square baking dish lined with plastic wrap. Press the rice down into an even layer and cool to room temperature. (Note - rice will be sticky. Wetting your fingers, or using a wet spatula can help with pressing down the rice without having it stick to your fingers. Refrigerate the rice until firm, about 1-2 hours, or overnight.
- Make the shrimp salad. While your rice is chilling, make the shrimp salad. Zest the lemon and grate the jalapeno, then mix them both with salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the chopped shrimp, mayo, chili paste, and green onions, and refrigerate the salad for 2 hours.
- Make the crispy rice cakes. Remove the rice from the refrigerator and carefully remove the rice from the baking dish. Remove the saran wrap from the rice and place the block of chilled rice on a cutting board. Cut the chilled rice into small pieces or squares. In a large skillet, working in batches, heat the oil and butter, then pan fry the rice blocks until they are golden brown on both sides. This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Assemble the crispy rice bites with shrimp salad. Slice the avocado and drizzle it with lemon juice. Assemble the dish by placing a slice of avocado on the top of the crispy rice squares, then topping each square with the spicy shrimp salad, and adding a thin slice of jalapeno. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Serve. Serve with soy sauce on the side.
Variations and Substitutions
- Make it vegetarian. For a vegetarian option, replace shrimp with diced tofu or your favorite fresh veggies.
- Try different sauces. Experiment with different chili pastes or hot sauces to customize the spice level.
- Try different fish. If you're feeling brave, opt to make this with sushi grade fish, such as salmon or raw tuna.
- Make it a bowl! You could easily fry up the crispy rice, break it into pieces and then top it with the spicy shrimp salad to make sushi bowls or a poke bowl.
- Try some different garnishes. Some easy ways to experiment with different flavors are to try out different garnishes. Add some extra chopped green onion, a squeeze of lime juice, or even a drizzle of sesame oil to the top of the crispy rice cakes for something a little different.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can prepare the rice ahead of time to the point of chilling it in the pan (pre frying) and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. You can also make the shrimp salad recipe ahead of time. When you're ready to serve, simply fry the rice cakes, then top the fried rice cakes with the toppings, and you're good to go!
While the recipe is optimized for sushi rice, you can experiment with other cooked rice varieties, keeping in mind that the texture may vary.
As written, the shrimp salad is not overly spicy (even my spice-adverse son loved it!) But,the spice level can be adjusted to your preference by varying the amount of chili paste or choosing a milder pepper.
Yes! To make the sushi rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot, rinse and drain the rice, then add it to the Instant Pot along with 2 cups cold water. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, then allow for a natural release for an additional 5 minutes before manually releasing the steam.
While the rice is cooking, mix the vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir until sugar has fully dissolved (you may need to do this over very low heat on the stovetop for a few minutes to get the sugar to dissolve).
When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl, then pour the vinegar mixture over the top. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gently mix the rice with the vinegar-sugar mixture to ensure everything is well combined.
While these are best served fresh, you can store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
These crispy rice bites with spicy shrimp salad will be your new favorite go to and are a perfect appetizer or main dish for when you're craving sushi.
If you try this recipe for Crispy Rice With Spicy Shrimp Salad, let me know what you think in the comments below. And don't forget to tag me @frontrangefed on Instagram with a pic - I love to see your masterpieces!
More Easy Asian Inspired Meals
- Crispy, Baked Soy Garlic Chicken Wings
- Chicken And Shrimp Stir Fry With Garlic Ginger Sauce
- Easy Kung Pao Tofu Recipe
- Easy Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowls
- Miso Chicken Thighs
Crispy Rice With Spicy Shrimp Salad
For the fried crispy rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ cups sushi rice rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp neutral oil (like grapeseed oil or avocado oil)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter (plus more as needed)
For the spicy shrimp salad
- 1 jalapeno or other spicy pepper, thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 1 lemon
- 1 lb shrimp cooked and finely chopped
- ⅓ cup diced green onions
- 2 tablespoon chili paste or gojuchang
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 small avoado
- 2 tablespoon mayonaise
- soy sauce
- extra thinly sliced jalapeno
- sesame seeds
- Make the sushi rice. Stir the 2 cups of water, the rinsed rice, vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the rice from heat and allow it to sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap, with a good amount of overhang on each side. Transfer the rice to the pan and press it down to flatten it into an even layer. Allow the rice to sit, at room temperature until completely cool, roughly 30 minutes. Refrigerate the rice until firm, at least 2 hours, but preferably longer (up to 24 hours).
- Zest the lemon and grate the jalapeno, then place both in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt, and stir. Add the chopped shrimp, the mayo, the chili paste (or gojuchang), and the green onions. Cover and place into the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- When you’re ready to prepare the dish, remove the rice from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and invert it onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the rice into 18 even squares or rectangles.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoon of oil and the tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the rice blocks and cook until golden on the bottom. This should take between 8-10 minutes. Flip the rice block and cook for an additional 8 minutes, until the other side is golden. Transfer the rice blocks to a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt. (You may need to do this step in batches depending on your skillet size.)
- Pit the avocado and slice thinly, drizzle with the juice from the lemon.
- Remove the spicy shrimp salad from the refrigerator and give it a good stir.
- Assemble the rice cakes by adding a slice of avocado to each rice cake, then topping with a small scoop of the spicy shrimp salad. Top with a thin slice of jalapeno. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
- Serve with soy sauce on the side.
- Allow the sushi rice to chill in the pan for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours to make it easy to cut into squares.
- Store any leftover crispy rice cakes in an airtight container for up to 2 days.