The weekend is here. Want to try some exotic flavor but not much of a hassle? Here is a good option -- Thai Fish Cakes. They are slightly crispy outside and tender inside. The beautiful colors will easily catch your eyes and whet your appetite. Pairing with a plate of Spicy Long Beans with Shallots (recipe coming soon), you will have a delicious dinner to treat the whole family and yourself, for a whole-week’s hard work.
Thai Fish Cake
Fish fillet (swai fish): 8 oz
Thai Red Curry Paste: 2 tablespoon
Shaved palm sugar: 6g, or more, to taste (or table sugar)
Egg: 1 whole egg
Ginger: 1 tablespoon, finely grated (see here for the method of grating ginger)
Corn starch: 1 tablespoon
Water: 2 tablespoon, up to 4 tablespoon(¼ cup), depending on different types of fish you use.
Long beans or green beans: ½ to 1 cup, finely sliced
Fish sauce: ¼ teaspoon, or more, to taste
Handful of Thai basil leaves (or sweet basil you can’t find Thai basil)
Vegetable oil for deep-frying: ½ to 1 cup oil (or more depending on the size of your wok
Mince the fish fillet to very fine consistency using an electric food processor.
Add in Thai red curry paste, shaved palm sugar, egg, grated ginger, corn starch, and fish sauce. Mix until everything is thorough incorporated.
In two batches, add water, half at a time, mixing until everything is thorough incorporated. Then add the remaining half, mixing until everything is thorough incorporated.
Sir in the sliced beans, and mix well.
Check the seasoning by deep frying a little to test, or microwave a little for 15-30 seconds. If not salty enough, add a little bit more fish sauce. It may need a little bit more palm sugar depending on your taste.
Heat a cast iron wok to medium hot, pour in ½ to 1 cup oil (or more depending on the size of your wok). Then turn heat to medium.
Using slightly wet hand, shape the fish cake into 2-inch (diameter) x ¼ inch (height) discs. Press a Thai basil leaf on top of each disc. Fry the fish cakes until they are slightly puffed and turn golden brown. Turn them to fry the other side till golden brown.
Drain on paper towels to absorb the excessive oil.
Briefly fry some basil leaves – be careful, as they can splatter when added to oil. Set aside to drain.
Serve hot with fried basil leaves. The fish cakes are slightly crispy outside and very tender inside. The fried basil leaves are crispy and aromatic, adding another layer of flavor to the fish cakes.
Swai is a white-flesh fish (typically available in fillet form) with a moist, sweet mild taste and light flaky texture. The fillet is beige colored flesh which turns white after cooking.
If you can’t find swai fish, here are some other options: cat fish, mahi mahi fish, kingfish or Spanish mackerel. Please note not all fish are suitable for making this fish cake. Some fish flesh does not stick together well after being minced. It doesn’t hold the shape of a disc and falls apart easily.
You may need to adjust the amount of water ranging from 2 tablespoon, up to 4 tablespoon(¼ cup), depending on what type of fish you use. Some type of fish flesh is firm and meaty, and absorbs more water than others. For example, mahi mahi flesh is denser than cat fish, and cat fish flesh is denser than swai.
Both Thai Red Curry Paste and fish sauce are very salty. This is why this recipe does not call for any salt. And depending on what brand of fish sauce you use, adjusting the amount of fish sauce may be necessary.
The fish cake paste can be prepared ahead of time, stored in fridge for two days. Take it out of your fridge and fry it at the dinner time.
Swai Fish Fillet (picture source)
This is the Red Curry Paste I use.