My children are back at school and so I’m back to recipe blogging with a vengeance. My youngest has just started this week so I’m holding back the tears whilst writing this and using it as an excuse to avoid cleaning the house or look for a proper job (both of which are inevitable).
I’ve been carefully nurturing three French bean plants at the allotment just to make this dish. Most were annihilated by rodents and slugs and so I built little fortresses around the remaining three and they just about survived. You may think I’m a mad woman but I refused to just buy some from Tesco. And the waiting did make the tasting all the sweeter which is what I love about growing your own vegetables and eating seasonally.
Thai fish cakes don’t exactly spring to mind when you think of French beans but they are an essential part of this dish (although to be truly authentic you would use Chinese long beans). This recipe is another from the little pink Chiang Mai Cookery School cookbook (with a few minor alterations).
Thai fish cakes with cucumber dipping sauce
For the fish cakes
- 500g of white fish (I used Cornish Ling but you can use any cheap white fish. My fishmonger tells me that the lady from an un-named local Thai restaurant requests only the smelliest fish which is on the verge of going off, but I don’t go that far to achieve authenticity)
- 2 tablespoons of red curry paste (I use the Mae Ploy one which they sell in most supermarkets these days)
- 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of palm sugar (or I use soft brown sugar)
- 10 kaffir lime leaves (or I use 1 tablespoon of lime juice instead)
- 8 French beans, finely chopped
- ground nut oil for frying
For the cucumber dipping sauce
- 6 tablespoons of water
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- 1 chilli
- 2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts chopped
- 2 tablespoons of cucumber cut into small chunks
- a handful of chopped coriander
For the fish cakes, first chop the fish into large chunks and pulse in a mini food processor until roughly minced. Add all the other ingredients (except the French beans) and then pulse again in the food processor until well combined. Tip into a bowl and add the French beans and mush in. Then using wet hands shape into small flat cakes about 4cm in diameter and no more than 1 cm thick. This amount makes about 18 – 20.
In a large frying pan heat about 1/2 cm of groundnut oil until very hot. Add the fish cakes to the pan and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown – you may need to turn the heat down after a while if they start to go too brown too quickly. Don’t overcrowd the pan – you will probably need to fry in 2 or 3 batches and you can keep the cakes warm in a low oven while waiting for the others to cook.
For the dipping sauce, put the water, sugar and vinegar into a pan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved bring the water to the boil and leave to bubble for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened but not caramelised. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Before serving add the chilli, peanuts, cucumber and coriander and stir well. Don’t mix together too far in advance or the cucumber makes the sauce to watery and the peanuts go soft.
Other Thai dishes on this blog