Thai Fish Cakes

Time saver: “fish” and “cake” shouldn’t normally go together. (Just my opinion.)

Here’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to put up for a while, it goes out to my brother, who’s going to cook them for Mum when he gets back home (it’s on the Internet now, he has to).

“Fish cakes” don’t sound all that appealing (to me anyway) but these are truly delicious. When you get them right, the outside slightly caramelised, the inside still moist and tender, the dressing fresh and zingy… everything just combines into something so much better than the name might suggest. Not only that but they’re really quick to make.

The recipe scales well, so you can double it to serve twice as many people, or halve it for an entrée sized serving. For the degustation menu I think I made about a quarter of a batch and didn’t use all of it. (In that case the fish cakes were quite small and almost egg-shaped, rather than a flat round, and I used a very small pan with quite a lot of oil for a semi-deep fried effect. They were then served on a small plate on top of finely-chopped cucumber salad, with a lime and sweet chilli dressing.)

I’ve tried a few variations of these, but this recipe contains the bare essentials required to guarantee success. The recipe calls for fresh coriander (cilantro), or basil if you don’t like coriander. If you don’t like either of those, I don’t know what you’re doing reading a food blog (unless you’re researching the enemy…) but I suppose you could use fresh parsley. Note the “optional” ingredients – these can be included for more flavour, but aren’t strictly required – you’ll still get an excellent result with just the base ingredients.

Thai Fish Cakes – serves 2

For the salad

  • 80-100g fresh salad greens (e.g. Mesclun salad mix, rocket, baby lettuce and thinly sliced cucumber etc.)
  1. Divide evenly between two plates.

For the Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon/lime juice
  • 5-10g/2 Tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • (optional) 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • (optional) 2 Tbsp finely chopped roasted peanuts (to sprinkle on top)
  1. Combine chilli sauce and lemon/lime juice in a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Taste it, and if it’s too tart and 1 Tbsp brown sugar, then mix well.
  3. Add the chopped coriander and stir through.

For the fish cakes

  • 300-400g firm white fish fillets (e.g. hoki, snapper, grouper etc)
  • 3-4 spring onions (1 per 100g fish) chopped coarsely
  • 20g/small bunch/¼ cup of fresh coriander/basil chopped coarsely
  • 3 Tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • zest of 1 lemon/lime
  • (optional) ¼ tsp of sesame oil
  • (optional) 5-10 mint leaves, chopped coarsely
  • (optional) 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • (optional) 1 clove/tsp crushed garlic
  • (optional) 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • Peanut oil to fry in (around 3-5 Tbsp) (if you don’t have peanut oil, go get some, or get coconut oil or use a much less interesting unflavoured vegetable oil)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the fish cakes in a food processor, and pulse till well mixed. Don’t go so far as to turn it into a paste, it should really only take 15-20 seconds. If you don’t have a food processor or anything like it, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Just chop everything finely, cut the fish into small (tiny) pieces, and then mix it by hand in a bowl.
  2. Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. I normally use a non-stick pan for these, if you’re careful a bare metal pan will work too.
  3. Take a heaped tablespoon of fish mixture and shape into a flat round in your hand, then add it to the pan and repeat (quickly). You should get around 8-10 fish cakes.
  4. Fry fish cakes on each side for around 3-5 minutes, turning once the bottoms are golden brown and/or start to caramelise.
  5. Divide fish cakes onto the plated salad, placing them in a line down the middle of each plate, tiled slightly with the edge of one fish cake on top of the one next to it.
  6. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the dressing over the top of the fish cakes on each of the plates. (If using peanuts, sprinkle 1 Tbsp  of the chopped peanuts over the top of the dressing.)
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