Recipe courtesy of Norman Van Aikens

Yuca-Stuffed Crispy Shrimp

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 1 hr 5 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Norman's "Mo J.":

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 Scotch bonnet chiles, stem and seeds discarded, minced 

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, freshly toasted 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup olive oil 

1/3 cup sour orange juice 

2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar 

Hearts of Palm Slaw:

1 1/2 cups peeled and very thinly sliced fresh hearts of palm

1/4 cup peeled and julienned jicama

1/4 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, julienned 

1/4 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, julienned 

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced 

1/2 small red onion, julienned 

3 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped 

1/2 cup virgin olive oil 

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 

1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground coriander 

1/2 teaspoon sugar 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Kosher salt, to taste 

Scotch Bonnet Tartar Salsa:

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

3 tablespoons store-bought sweet butter pickles, diced small, plus 1 teaspoon brine 

1/2 cup virgin olive oil 

1/2 cup canola oil 

2 tablespoons diced red onion 

1 1/2 tablespoons minced Scotch bonnet chiles (stem and seeds discarded)

1 hard-cooked egg, yolk sieved and white chopped small 

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Stuffed Shrimp:

2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1 cup seasoned flour 

1 egg, beaten with 3 tablespoons water 

12 very large fresh shrimp (16 to 20 count), tail left on, peeled, deveined and butterflied 1 cup cooked and mashed yuca 

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stem and seeds discarded, minced 

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced 

Kosher salt and freshly toasted and cracked black pepper, to taste 

Peanut oil, for frying


  1. For the "Mo J.": Mash together the garlic, chiles, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle until fairly smooth. Scrape into a bowl and set aside a moment. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until fairly hot and pour it over the garlic mixture. Mix and allow to stand 10 minutes. Whisk in the orange juice and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside until ready to use.
  2. For the hearts of palm slaw: Mix together the hearts of palm, jicama, red and yellow bell peppers, Scotch bonnet chile, onion and scallions in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, orange juice, coriander, sugar, pepper and salt to taste in a bowl and pour over the vegetables.
  4. For the Scotch bonnet tartar salsa: Put the egg yolks in a blender and beat until pale. (Alternatively work by hand.) With the blender running, add the vinegar and pickle brine. Slowly add the olive oil and canola oil and blend until completely incorporated.
  5. If using a blender, remove the mixture to a bowl so the vegetables don¿t get overly processed. Add the sweet butter pickles, red onion and chiles. Stir in the hard-cooked egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. For the stuffed shrimp: Place the panko, flour and egg wash in separate shallow bowls. Pat the shrimp dry of any excess water. Combine the mashed yuca with the chile, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the cavity (butterfly cut) of each shrimp with about 3/4 tablespoon of the yuca mash, packing it firmly into place. Dust the shrimp first in the flour, then dip in the egg wash and then the panko. Set aside.
  7. Heat the peanut oil in a large heavy deep skillet or French fryer to 350 degrees F. When the oil is hot, lay the shrimp in it and cook until golden and cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate with absorbent toweling. Spoon a small dollop of the Scotch Bonnet Tartar Salsa to go under each shrimp on to the plates. Lift some of the Hearts of Palm Slaw onto the center of the plates. Spoon or ladle some of the "Mo J." directly onto each shrimp. Serve.