Sunday, September 30, 2012

Classic Thai fish cakes (Chả cá Thái Lan)

I love Thai food. When i was in Vietnam, I went to a Thai restaurant 2 -3 times a week. I would say the taste of Thai food in Vietnam is similar to authentic Thai, but in NYC Thai food is adjusted to American taste. Actually, I do want to make some Thai food at home as I'm craving for Thai fish cakes and Tom yum soup, but it is not easy to find Thai ingredients in NYC. One day, when i was wandering around Chinatown, I found a tiny Thai grocery store located in a little alley called Mosco street. I bought some Thai lime Kafirr leaves which is very hard to find in New York and costs $3 just for a few leaves.

Thai fish cakes are a popular dish in Thai cooking. It makes a great snack, especially when you dip it in spicy sweet chili sauce. You can also serve it as a main course with sticky rice and pickled cucumber and carrot.

Well, let's get cooking now.

Ingredients: (Adapted & modified from About Thai

  • 1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets (Cod, Tilapia etc....)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste OR 2 tsp. red curry paste (I use red curry paste because my hubby doesn't eat shrimp paste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 5 big string beans, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated ( I use ginger)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
  • Olive or Canola oil for high temp. frying
  • To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce & lime wedges


  1. Rinse fish and use paper towel to pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor.
  2. In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, red curry paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (kaffir lime leaf strips, string beans, ginger and garlic). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.
  4. Picking up a small amount in your hand, pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick.   

    If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent the paste from sticking.
  5. Set a plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Cut the cucumber length-wise, then dice up into small cubes and set aside. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).
  6. Heat oil. When hot enough, gently place cakes in oil. Fry 30 seconds to 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating.

                                                    Good luck and Enjoy !

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