Saturday 4 July 2009

Thai-Style Fish Cakes

I've just returned from 4 days in Ibiza. There was a lot of partying, a lot of sun-bathing, and rather too much eating of junk food - think Burger King, KFC and a fry-up slung in there too. I am a bad foodie.

So upon returning home, a little sad and more than a little skint, I spotted some basa fillets going cheap. It's not particularly environmentally friendly, given that they're from Vietnam, but they are sustainable. They're a white fish, and have a tendency to be a little tasteless so I packed them full of Thai aromatics in an attempt to liven them up a little.

The usual Thai fish cakes such as the ones you get at restaurants are made by processing white fish with red Thai curry paste and green beans, then deep fried. Since I don't have a food processor, I decided to do this the traditional way by using a pestle and mortar. The springiness of the cooked fishcakes comes from pounding the fish into a paste, so I did some limbering up and set about to work. The fish was chopped into small chunks and pounded around the mortar with a little cornflour. When I thought I got the right consistency, I set about to adding the flavourings, pounding and grinding as I went along.

The fishcakes could have perhaps benefitted from a few more minutes in the pestle and mortar as while they didn't have the same rubbery texture as onces made in a food processor, they were well flavoured and delicious. They were light and had a good kick to them. Coconut rice was a good accompaniment to them to make them into a whole and satisfying meal.

Thai-Style Fish Cakes with Cucumber & Peanut Dip

Serves 2

1 large basa fillet

1 stick of lemongrass, tender inner part only

1" piece of galangal

1 clove garlic

2 kaffir lime leaves

2 red chillis

3 sprigs of coriander, roots as well if possible

Juice of half a lime

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp cornflour

For the sauce:

5 tbsp rice wine vinegar

3 tbsp water

80gr caster sugar

1/2 cucumber

25gr roasted peanuts, chopped roughly

1 red chilli

1 tsp fish sauce

Chop up the fish finely and pound in a pestle and mortar with the cornflour. Add the rest of the ingredients chopped finely and pound into a thick paste.

Meanwhile, deseed and dice the cucumber. In a saucepan, add the suagr and the vinegar and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the water and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, leave to cool, and add the cucumber, chilli and fish sauce.

Heat about an inch of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Shape the fish paste into patties with wet hands and carefully lay them in the oil. Fry for 3 - 4 minutes each side, depending on the thickness. Serve with coconut rice on a bed of Little Gem lettuce leaves, broad beans and sliced radishes with the dipping sauce on the side.


Helen said...

NOM! I love that bouncy texture. So satisfying. Nice one on spotting the bargain - good eyes! Loving the peanut dip on the side too.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Mmm... yum. Basa's a new one on me - I'll have to look out for it.

Boo said...

I made fishcakes this week using cod and potato, they were a bit boring and fell apart. Yours look great, thai flavours are a brilliant way to liven up something that's potentially bland

Anonymous said...

These look gorgeous! I love the way you've authentically pounded your fish in a pestle and mortar. And spicy flavours are just the ticket when you've wrecked your tastebuds from all that partying!! ;)

Naomi Knill said...

They look gorgeous! I feel fishcakes may be making an appearance on next week's dinner menu...

I like the idea of using the pestle and mortar becaus ethe food processor can sometimes over-process fish amd make it go all mushy.

Simon Leong said...

these look like amazingly tasty fish cakes.