Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Cook Gourmet-style Thai Fish Cakes

These yummy fish cakes are a cross between traditional Thai fish cakes and the breaded variety we've all come to know and love. Since I enjoy both types, here I've created a fish cake recipe that's closer to what you might find at one of our North American restaurants (for authentic Thai fish cakes, see my link below). The cakes are crusted on the outside with a crispy coating, while the inside is moist and as delicious as you can imagine (very similar to crab cakes)! Great to serve company, or to make as a special meal any night of the week. ENJOY!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: SERVES: 4-6 as an Appetizer


  • 1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
  • 3 Tbsp. good-quality coconut milk (not 'lite')
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chili, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
  • about 1 cup oil for high temp. frying (I use corn oil)
  • 1 + 1/2 to 2 cups breadcrumbs (I like Panko breadcrumbs)
  • For the Sweet Chili & Basil Mayo:
  • 3 Tbsp. Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (available in your supermarket), 3 Tbsp. mayonaise, handful of fresh basil


For traditional Thai Fish Cakes (not battered), see my: Classic Thai Fish Cakes Recipe.
  1. Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped.
  2. In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal/ginger, garlic, and chili). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.
  4. Pat the paste into cakes (2 to 3 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick) and set on a clean plate. Tips: If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often to prevent paste from sticking.
  5. Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, pour breadcrumbs into a mixing-type bowl. Break egg into another smaller bowl and brifly whisk with a fork. You can also prepare your mayo, and your pan for frying.
  6. Remove cakes from the refrigerator. Dip the cakes first in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Set on a plate next to the stove.
  7. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep). Heat oil over medium-high heat until a dropped breadcrumb sizzles and cooks immediately. Gently place cakes in the hot oil, reducing heat as you fry to just above medium. Fry until golden-brown, turning in the oil with tongs. Drain on paper towel.
  8. In a small bowl, combine equal parts Sweet Chili Sauce and mayonnaise (or adjust according to your liking). Finely slice up a few basil leaves and stir them in. Serve the fish cakes immediately with the mayo, and ENJOY!

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