Bream is not one of my favourite fish, but it’s one of the easier ones to catch, and Lewie likes fishing. Bream are a good source of omega 3 and listed as sustainable, so it’s very unfortunate that they’re a bit bland and soft for my taste. I could never get appropriately excited about the catch until I discovered just how easy Thai Fish Cakes are to make – easy enough to knock up after a day at the beach and good enough for me to properly praise the fisherman!
It’s a good idea to make the dipping sauce first, because like many Asian dishes, this comes together really fast.
Cucumber Dipping Sauce
In a small pan, dry roast 2 dessertspoons of chopped macadamias or (more traditionally) peanuts.
In a small saucepan bring to the boil:
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 3 dessertspoons sugar
- 1 chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- the 2 dessertspoons of roasted chopped macadamias.
Cook for a few minutes, then take the pot off and put it in the sink with some water to cool down.
Deseed and finely dice about 3 dessertspoons of cucumber. When the vinegar is cool, stir in the cucumber.
While it is cooling, you can be making the fish cakes
This can all be done in a food processor. Mine will do it all in one go, but you may like to do it in two batches the first time just to test your food processor. It makes about 20 cakes.
- 350 grams of fish fillets with no bones (Use the skeleton for stock for Lao Style Fragrant Fish Soup, and you won’t resent wasteful filleting)
- 1 chili minus seeds
- 3 dessertspoons fish sauce
- 3 dessertspoons lime cordial (or 3 teaspoons lime juice and 3 teaspoons brown sugar)
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves garlic
- small knob of ginger and/or galangal
You can also add the white part of a stem of lemon grass or a couple of kaffir lime leaves if you have them and you like a strong citrus flavour (but go easy – it can be overpowering).
Blend this lot into a smooth paste.
I can just change the blade in my food processor for a grater and carry on into the same bowl. But you may want to empty the fish paste into a bowl to check the texture your food processor delivers the first time you do this. You want this second batch to be very finely chopped or grated rather than a paste.
- 2 small or 1 large spring onion
- half a dozen snake beans
- 1/3 cup packed coriander and/or Thai basil
Mix the two batches together.
Thai fish cakes are small – take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and drop it on a plate of flour. Sprinkle flour on top and you will be able to pat the cake into a small, flat patty.
Heat a little oil in a pan – I use olive oil although it is not very traditional, just because I use it for almost all cooking. Fry the cakes in hot oil for just two minutes or so on each side until golden and puffed up.
Serve hot straight out of the pan with the dipping sauce.