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 mousseline. 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.
- 300 g (10 oz) skinless fillets of delicate white fish;
- 2 teaspoons Red Curry Paste;
- 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 5-6 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.
Makes 12 small fish cakes