April 16, 2013
Tasty Thai Fish Cakes
Here in Canberra we are having the most glorious Autumn
The days are cooler, but the warmth hasn't gone out of the sun; the light is softer, but the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves add colour everywhere you look. The days are just perfect for long lunches out of doors, and making the most of lighter dishes before the heaviness of Winter meals.
You all know by now My Lovelies, about my love affair with South East Asian food? Well these little fish cakes are perfect for lunch on the deck, with a glass of crisp white wine and soaking up as much sun and vitamin D as possible before hibernation begins.
Fish cakes are one of the must-haves on every Thai menu, but did you know how easy they are to make at home? I don't like using many pre-made products in my kitchen, but I have to say I do make an exception for curry pastes as they are chock full of flavour and usually made up of pretty authentic ingredients.
The recipe for these little sweeties doesn't change much between chefs or cookbooks.
Traditional recipes don't need fiddling with, generations have honed these down to the best possible outcome for us already. The only difference is now and then picking up an extra special tip along the way. David Thompson is THE go-to guy for Thai, so of course I followed his recipe and guidelines- and was surprised to find a technique that made quite a difference to the final delicious result....read on....
David Thompson's Thai Fish Cakes
300g White Fish Fillets- David recommends Whiting or Orange Roughy
*my special ingredient a 1:4 ratio of prawns for a bit of extra seafoody sweetness*
4 Tab Red Curry Paste (gf)
3 Tab Fish Sauce
1 tsp Castor Sugar
5 Kaffir Lime Leaves- shredded
2 Tab Snake Beans- I used just plain beans- finely cut
Combine fish, curry paste and egg in a food processor
Blend up well until nice and smooth
Add in fish sauce and sugar
Blend again until really well combined
Now this is the Special Trick from David: In a LARGE bowl, gather the fish puree up into a ball and throw it back into the bowl. Keep up this slapping until the mixture becomes firmer and stickier as it aerates the ingredients and makes the cakes puff up when deep fried.
I haven't done this step in the past, and while my cakes have still tasted quite nice they certainly didn't have the light texture of these cakes. All the fish cakes I've had before have had a trademark rubberiness to them that I didn't know you could change. It's up to you, but I definitely think it's worth the hassle
Mix in lime leaves and beans
Nice and pretty isn't it? See how the texture is definitely different than before the Slapping Step
Form the paste into small discs- I used 2 oiled soup spoons to shape the mix, dip the spoons into the oil each time so the sticky mixture slips off easily, and then deep fry on medium heat until golden brown.
The cakes will puff up nicely, but deflate very quickly as they cool down.
I like to place anything deep fried on a rack to drain and to allow a bit of airflow around the items to retain crispness, if you just drain them on some paper they tend to steam and go a bit soggy
Serve quite quickly as these little cakes tend to toughen as they cool
I made a very basic sugar, vinegar, fish sauce dipping sauce with a bit of chilli heat and cucumber to go on the side
So my Dearest Readers, are you enjoying the waning days of warmth or is it Winter with you already, and what is your favourite Thai dish?