Recipe: Thai Fish Cakes
Thai Fish Cakes (ทอดมันปลา)
Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Mun Pla) are a ubiquitous sight in street stalls and restaurants throughout Thailand. A little spicy without being over the top, they combine all the flavors you love in Thai food: Kaffir Lime, Fish Sauce, Curry, and Cilantro -- they go great with a chilled beer. Make a few for an appetizer, or a lot for an entree.
Ingredients (about 10 servings)
1 lb firm white fish
5 Kaffir Lime leaves
4 Scallions, finely chopped
6 oz Green Beans (see Notes)
1 cup finely chopped Cilantro
1 Tbl Thai Red Curry (see Notes)
2-4 Tbl Fish Sauce (see Notes)
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbl Cornstarch or Rice Flour
Neutral oil for pan frying (see Notes)
Mince the fish (see Notes).
Soak Kaffir Lime leaves in water for about 15 mins, then slice crosswise extremely finely.
Finely chop scallions and green beans.
Combine all the ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl and mix very well.
Form the mixture into patties about 3 in. wide and between 1/2 and 1/4 in. thick. Pan fry in small batches, browning on both sides. Keep warm while working later batches.
Serve with a Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Nam Chim Kai: น้ำจิ้มไก่), Cucumber Sauce (Nam Chim Tang Qua, or Ajaat: อาจาด), or Spicy Fish Sauce (Prig Nam Pla: พริกน้ำปลา).
Chinese Long Beans are preferred, but you can always use regular green beans if the former aren't available in your grocery.
You can make your own Red Curry paste, or find it in cans in your local Thai or Asian grocery. We prefer Maesri brand, which is widely available even in chain groceries.
Not all fish sauces are created equal. You want to pick a fish sauce -- whether Thai or Vietnamese -- that has the fewest ingredients. The label should simply list fish (not fish extract) and salt. A good fish sauce may also say "first press" on the label. We love Red Boat brand, which is Vietnamese, but there are several others that are equally as good. Adjust the amount to your tastes.
We do the cutting/chopping/dicing/mincing in this recipe by hand because: a) we like doing the knife work; b) it's how it would be done traditionally (and so gives the finished dish a little more rustic feel; and c) using a food processor runs the risk of over working the ingredients for pulverizing them to too fine a consistency.]
We prefer to pan fry these, which uses less oil, but some people do prefer to deep fry them.