Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Mun Pla) with Cucumber Sauce

Having three kids mean lots of parties. Lots and lots of parties. At almost every one of these parties where my in-laws were present, my mother-in-law would bring her Thai Fish Cakes with her as one of the dishes. Hubby's mother is herself Chinese, but her husband is Thai-Chinese.

As hubby's family doesn't share much info and hubby himself doesn't know much about his family's history, I got the scoop from hubby's cousin, who I chat with because we have kids of the same age. It turns out that hubby's father used to own two of the very first Thai restaurants in the LA downtown area. Cousin-in-law used to work there waitressing tables. After awhile, the family sold their businesses, and eventually the restaurants closed down under new owners . In the course of chatting about the restaurants, hubby's cousin also shared with me their recipe for Tod Mun Pla.

Recipe for Tod Mun Pla:
1 lb white fish paste
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 kaffir lime leaves (6 kaffir lime leave halves), chopped finely
1/3 cup of Chinese Long Beans, chopped
1.5-2 tablespoons red curry paste

If you can't find fish paste in your locale, you can process a pound of white fish such as cod or tilapia with a teaspoon of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon sugar, a teaspoon of salt, and an egg. Usually I purchase my fish paste in tubs from the store, and these already has egg whites, salt and sugar pre-added.

The red curry paste can be found in Asian supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can substitute a mix of red curry powder and chili powder, but it won't be as fresh.

First chop up the kaffir lime leaves and the long beans. The lime leaves are tough to cut. I stack them on top of each other and cut lengthwise first, then gather them and chop crosswise.

Add all the ingredients to the fish paste. Mix well, and then form flat 1/4 inch thick patties about 1.5 inches in diameter using a spoon to aid you.

Meanwhile, start a pan with about an inch of vegetable oil on the bottom on medium high.

Once the oil is hot, drop in some of the patties, well-spaced, and fry for about 2 minutes per side. Once golden brown, remove the patties and let drain on paper towels.

I like to make all my patties beforehand and then scoop each patty with a spatula into the pan one at a time once I start the frying. But you can also shape each patty as you drop them into the pan. Just do it quickly before the oil stiffens them up.

Since I didn't ask hubby's cousin about the cucumber sauce, this is my own creation, but I've got it pretty much down pat since I've eaten it for so many years at so many parties and family dinners. The only thing I added was the shallot because I like the taste of it in my sauce.

Recipe for the Cucumber Sauce:
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 red chilis, sliced
1 cup cucumber (i use pickling cucumbers), quartered and then sliced
1 shallot, sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste

Dissolve the sugar in the water. Add in the rest of the incredients and then chill. The longer this sits, the more time for the flavors to come out into the sauce, and the better it tastes.


Food For Tots said...

My hubby n I luv these cakes. A MUST for every visit to Thai Restaurant. Can I do away with the red curry paste?

gaga said...

I've never considered making these for myself at home. I'll definitely give it a try some time!

Anonymous said...

Those fish cakes look so nice and golden! Yum!

shavedicesundays said...

Food for tots, when I first started making these, at times I didnt' have curry paste on hand, so I left them out and used curry powder. Without the curry it doesn't taste the same, but it will cook just fine. The amount of red curry paste I put in is just enough my kids can eat them, it's just a bit spicy.

gaga, yes they're so easy to make, especially if you have fish paste available at your market. Save yourself some mone from having to buy them at a restaurant.

amritac, the kids gobbled them up before dinner time, so I had to actually make a second batch that night just to take photos the next day.

Tastes of Home said...

i love fish cakes esp ones with spice in them! thanks for the recipe :)

shavedicesundays said...

Tastes of Home, love spices too, love fish cake too. Love your recipes.

A Scientist in the Kitchen said...

Looks yummy!!!

shavedicesundays said...

gay, thanks!