There are different versions of Thai fish cakes. The commonest fish cakes are fried, resulting in a bouncy, rubbery texture that some people accept but others dislike. My first experience with fish cakes was in an exclusive restaurant in Thailand where the chef was a minor princess who had learned her craft in a palace kitchen. The fish cakes she presented were exquisitely moulded in tiny fish shapes and steamed so their texture was tender, almost like a mousse line.
Ever since, I have been spoiled for fried fish cakes. I realize that not everybody has a steamer or the space to accommodate one, so this recipe is adapted for use in an oven, thus resulting in a tender, moist fish cake. Readily available in kitchen shops are trays of non-stick patty cake tins, which are ideal for baking these fish cakes. The recipe may be doubled or trebled for parties and served as finger food. Make a day ahead, except for the garnish, cover with plastic and refrigerate until required.
Makes 12 small fish cakes
- 300 g (10 oz) skinless fillets of delicate white fish
- 2 teaspoons Red Curry Paste (page 173)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- a pinch of white pepper
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) canned coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onions or chives
- 2 teaspoons rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- thinly sliced red chillies
- kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
Preheat the oven to 200¡C (400¡F).
Remove any traces of skin and stray bones from the fish and dice the fillets. Mince finely in food processor for just a few seconds. Mix together the curry paste, fish sauce, lime zest, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk and pour through the feed tube while processing the fish for a further 30 seconds. Scoop the fish mixture into a bowl and mix in the spring onions or chives. Divide into 12 even portions and with oiled palms roll each into a ball. Press flat and place in oiled patty pans.
Bake the fish cakes for 5Ð6 minutes. Do not overcook. Combine the remaining coconut milk with the rice flour and salt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the mixture boils and thickens. Spoon a little onto each fish cake, and decorate with a chilli slice and shreds of kaffir lime leaf or use a single leaf of fresh coriander or small-leaf basil. Serve 2 fish cakes on a bed of soft lettuce as a first course.