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~ Oh My Thai: Quick, Easy and Classic Fish Cakes ~

IMG_1372If the thought of snacking on fish cakes sounds a bit uninspiring, you've obviously never encountered Thai fish cakes -- they are unlike any European or Western fish cake you are ever going to taste.  They're one of Thailand's signature and most popular street food snacks.  They're one of my favorite Thai snacks too, and that's not just because they are bursting with Thai flavor. If you keep canned Thai red chili paste in your pantry, once you have a fresh fish fillet and some green beans in hand, you can satisfy your craving for Thai food in less than an hour!

Thai Snacks vs. the Thai Meal & some Thai Table Etiquette too: 

IMG_1305As I mentioned above, Thai fish cakes are a popular snack food, meaning:  they don't serve them at mealtime.  In Thailand, a traditional home-cooked "proper meal" revolves around the rice bowl, with several satellite dishes and condiments placed around it.  Without exception a proper Thai meal is always served family-style so everyone can share everything.  At each place setting there is a medium-sized plate, small soup bowl, fork, spoon and glass.  The plate is not over-sized to insure each dish is tried and eaten one-at-a-time with a scoop of warm rice.  No knives are used because Thai food is always bite-sized.  Whether the meal proper is prepared for two or twenty people, it is the event that is looked forward to all day long.  In order to stave off hunger, the Thai people perfected the art of snacking often throughout the day. "Outside of the meal food" (snacks), like these fish cakes, are prepared in the home or sold on the streets!

IMG_11031 1/2  pounds firm white fish, cut into  1 1/2"-2" chunks (Note:  This is a whole wild cod fillet.)

1/4 cup minced cilantro

IMG_11091/2  cup thinly-sliced green onion, white & light green parts only 

1/2  cup thinly-sliced green beans

2  tablespoons very-thinly-sliced kaffir lime leaves

1  extra-large egg, lightly beaten

6  tablespoons red curry paste

3  tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2  teaspoons palm sugar, or light brown sugar

corn or peanut oil for deep-frying

IMG_1162 IMG_1147 IMG_1160~ Step 1.  Prep the cilantro, green onions, green beans and kaffir lime leaves as directed and set aside.

IMG_1110 IMG_1117 IMG_1130Note:  To slice kaffir lime leaves, stack them, largest to smallest, then, roll them up cigar-style and slice them as thinly as you can.

IMG_1173 IMG_1177 IMG_1182~Step 2.  In  a small bowl whisk egg.  Stir in the curry paste, fish sauce and sugar until smooth.  Stir in the lime leaves and set aside 15-30 minutes.

IMG_1192Note:  Kaffir lime leaves are tough in texture.  Stirring them into this mixture and allowing  them to marinate will soften them up a bit.

IMG_1165~ Step 3. Cut fish as directed, placing it in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Using a series of 45-50 rapid on-off pulses, finely-mince. Do not over-process to a puree.  

IMG_1203 IMG_1206 IMG_1217~ Step 4.  Place fish in a large bowl.  Add the curry mixture and thoroughly combine.  Fold in cilantro, onions and green beans.

IMG_1229Cover with plastic wrap and set aside 15 minutes to marry flavors.

IMG_1232~ Step 5. Using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place firmly-packed scoops of fish mixture onto a 17 1/2" x 12" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  You will have 24-26 fish cakes.  

IMG_1247Set aside while preheating oil in deep-fryer to 360 degrees according to manufacturer's specifications, or, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours prior to frying as directed below.  Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to  frying.

While oil is heating:  line a baking pan with 3-4 layers of paper towels and position it next to fryer.  Set a large cooling rack off to the side too.

IMG_1262 IMG_1269 IMG_1286 IMG_1293~Step 6.  Pick up a fish cake and compact it into a firm disc about 1/2" thick and 2" around. Gently drop it into the hot oil, and, working as quickly as you can, form and drop two more discs into the oil. Do not overcrowed fryer basket by adding too many.  Close the lid and fry fish cakes for 2-2 1/2 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Using a pair of tongs, transfer the cakes to the paper towel lined pan (to absorb any excess oil), and, give them light sprinkle of sea salt.  After a minute or two, transfer them to the cooling rack.  Repeat this process until all fish cakes are fried.

IMG_1316Fish cakes are best served hot -- ASAP -- Oh My Thai:

IMG_1325Oh My Thai:  Quick, Easy and Classic Fish Cakes:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizer- snack-sized fish cakes, or, six servings, planning on four fish cakes per person.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; fork; food processor; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop; paper towels; tongs

IMG_0803Cook's Note:  Traditionally fish cakes are served with ~ Oh My Thai:  Spicy Quick-Pickled Cucumber Relish ~ which you can find in Categories 4, 13 or 20, and/or, ~ Would You Like Sweet Chili Sauce With That? ~, which you can find by clicking on the Related Article link below!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 


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