kawarthaCHOW – Saigon Shrimp Cakes

Chef John MacKinnon takes you on a culinary tour of the world at the PC Cooking School on June 17

Saigon Shrimp Cakes
Saigon Shrimp Cakes

John MacKinnon begun cooking in 1985 and, thanks to his skill and passion for food, he quickly progressed from a cook and student chef to Executive Chef and Certified Teacher of Hospitality and Tourism in Culinary Arts.

Chef John further honed his culinary skills by working in Scotland and Germany, before returning to Ontario and joining the Durham District School Board, where he teaches students what it takes to become the next great chef.

When he’s not teaching, Chef John also consults on new restaurant development, lectures as a Certified National Food Safety Trainer for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and volunteers at charity fundraising dinners throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

President's Choice cooking school

We’re excited to have Chef John at the cooking school on Tuesday, June 17th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., where he’ll take us on a culinary world tour. The international sampler menu features flavor-packed Thai Coconut Curry Mussels, luscious Blackened Blue Marlin, zesty Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Satay, spicy Jamaican Jerked Pork Medallions and, for dessert, a sinfully rich Belgium Chocolate Brownie served with a Tropical Fruit Mousse.

To register for Chef John’s class — or any of our exciting classes — visit www.pccookingschool.ca or call me directly at 705-749-6962 ext. 4.

Hope to see you in the kitchen on June 17th! In the meantime, here’s a variation of a traditional recipe for chả tôm (Vietnamese shrimp cakes).

Saigon Shrimp Cakes


  • 14-16 large shrimp, peeled
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) Thai chilies
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) minced fresh ginger
  • 1-1/4 lb (570 g) Tilapia or other white fish, medium diced
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) black pepper
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped scallions
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 a fresh lime, squeezed


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. In a food processor, purée shrimp, garlic, chilies, and ginger together.
  3. Add half of the fish and pulse, scraping the sides down and mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add remaining fish, salt, and pepper. Leave mixture slightly chunky.
  5. Remove and place in a large bowl. Fold in scallions, red pepper, cilantro, and lime juice.
  6. Form into patties and place on an oiled baking pan.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.

Serves 8.