Monday, April 26, 2010

Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet and Sour Dipping sauce

This recipe may not be the quickest, but it is quit easy and really one of the best things you can do with a piece of white fish. Serve them as a side dish, a snack or as a starter. When we were living in Tehran we used to do a curry night every month. We would have to bring our own drinks (because alcohol is VERY expensive and illegal in Iran: a 0,75 l bottle of mediocre wine like our beloved Bulgarian Francois du Lac -the only reason we drank it, because it was the ONLY wine being smuggled into the country- would cost at least $30) and a curry and the host would take care of the rest. The first time I decided to make these fish cakes and they were such a big hit, that by popular demand I had to bring them every single time we had a curry club!
Because these cakes burst with flavour, use a simple, not too expensive, big white fish. Look for a fish with flaky flesh (like cod, the flesh of some of the smaller fishes tend to fall apart when you start frying the cakes).

Makes about 25 fishcakes:
- 800 g white fish fillet
- 1 heaped tbsp Thai red curry paste (recipe here, or take your favourite brand)
- 20 spring onions, chopped roughly
- 1 handful coriander, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 l milk
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- oil for frying

Dipping sauce:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
- 1 chili, chopped
- 1 tbsp mint, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped

Start with the dip, because it has to cool down before serving.
Bring sugar, water and vinegar to a boil and keep stirring every now and then and check the thickness of the liquid regularly. Reduce it this way to a thin syrup (about 1/3 of the amount you started with). Before you take your syrup off the hob, taste and add a little more vinegar or sugar to taste. When your syrup has the right thickness remove it from the heat and let it cool down (it will get a bit thicker in the process of cooling).
Stir in coriander, chili, garlic, mint and fish sauce.

For the fishcakes, check the fish for bones and remove them. Cut the fish into chunks and put them in a blender with the eggs, red curry paste, fish sauce and milk. Process it roughly to obtain a thick paste. Over processing will make the fish rubbery. With a spoon, mix in the spring onions and the coriander.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and scoop one full tablespoon of the mixture on a spoon. Drop it in the pan using another spoon and spread so you end up with four or five small (not to thick) patties. Cook until brown, turn and repeat on the other side.
Lift them out of the pan and put them on a piece of paper kitchen towel. With another kitchen towel pat the oil off.
Keep warm in the oven until all the cakes are ready and serve with the dipping sauce. The cakes are not spicy, the dipping sauce is, so if you have small kids that are joining you for a Thai meal, make the dipping sauce without the chili. The fishcakes are best eaten immediately, but if you plan to make them for a party in advance, just reheat them in the oven or microwave.


  1. These fish cakes look delicious. I love the dipping sauce.

  2. I always have problems with picking the fish for fishcakes - seems that not all white fish fillets work :( ...that is why I usually made mine with shrimps/prawns :D

  3. Thanks! and @tigerfish: prawns are of course delicious too! but far too expensive ;-(... In Holland I always used the cheapest fish (koolvis), in Cairo and Iran a local big white and these worked out absolutely fine. When I moved to South Africa I started using hake and it was sort of a disaster. Used rock cod this time and everybody is happy again!