Hed Chef: Thai-style fish cakes
I don't mind shortcuts in cooking.
I may enjoy making my own spice pastes, but I don't fancy sitting around scraping fish meat and picking through bones.
To make these Thai-style fish cakes, I bought plain fish paste from the wet market. Ready-made fish paste usually comes seasoned with salt, so go easy on the fish sauce.
I used a food processor with a mixing blade to mix the fish paste. Don't use the chopping blade if you are using a food processor.
The alternative is putting your arms to work with a bowl and a spatula or mixing spoon.
One tip, when shaping the fish cakes, wet your palms or you will find the fish paste too sticky to shape.
Thai-style fish cakes. TNP PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
Don't be discouraged if the fish cakes don't look too shapely at first. The important thing is to make each piece as flat as possible without it becoming so thin that it disintegrates.
If you make them too thick, it is hard for the fish meat to cook through evenly.
One way to know the fish cakes are ready - they float in the oil.
All you have to do is flip them over. And do resist the temptation to keep flipping them, to prevent them from falling apart.
- 500g fish paste
- 3 stalks of snake beans, sliced
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- Cooking oil for deep-frying
Red curry paste
- 16 dried chillies, boiled and softened
- Zest of one kaffir lime
- 12 shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 stalks lemongrass (use 5cm of the white root part)
- 20g galangal
- 10g ginger
- 1 tbsp belacan powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 100ml water
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp oil
Red curry paste
1. Grind the dried chillies, kaffir lime zest, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, belacan powder and coriander.
2. Soak the tamarind pulp in the 100ml water. Strain and reserve the tamarind juice.
A.TNP PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
3. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil. Fry the spice mix until fragrant. Add the tamarind juice. Continue frying until the oil surfaces. Add the palm sugar and salt. (A)
4. Remove from heat and allow the paste to cool.
1. Mix the 500g fish paste with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the red curry paste.
B.TNP PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
2. Add the long beans and lime leaves. (B)
3. Mix in the beaten egg.
4. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar.
5. In a pan or wok, heat enough oil to cover the fish cakes.
6. Wet your palms, take one tablespoon of the mixed fish paste and shape it into a flat disc shape. I suggest using a diameter of around 5cm.
C.TNP PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
7. Gently place each piece into the oil to fry. Turn over and continue frying until cooked. (C)