Asian fish cakes tend to have a spongy texture that appeals to the Asian palate.They are traditionally made with a mild whitefish, although salmon makes a delicious substitute. Fresh fish paste, ground daily, can be found at better Asian fish markets; or make your own by grinding fish fillets in a food processor at home.
- For Relish:
- 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh small red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp powder, optional
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
- For Fish Cakes:
- 1 lb salmon fillets or whitefish paste (see note above)
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons Thai roasted chili paste (nam prik pao) or 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut crosswise into slices 1/8 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Companion recipe: Red Curry Paste
FOR RELISH: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into very thin slices and place in a bowl. Add the shallot, chili, dried shrimp powder (if using) and cilantro and stir to mix well. Pour the vinegar dressing over the cucumber mixture and set aside. Just before serving, sprinkle the peanuts on top.
FOR FISH CAKES: If using fillets, cut the fish into 1-inch cubes and place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until a fairly smooth paste forms. Transfer to a large bowl. If using whitefish paste, simply place in the bowl. Add the fish sauce, chili paste or curry paste, egg, salt, cornstarch, green beans and cilantro. Stir to mix well.
Moisten your hands with water and form the mixture into about 24 cakes each about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. As the cakes are formed, set them on an oiled baking sheet.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. Using an oiled slotted spatula, lower a few fish cakes into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place on a platter and keep warm while frying the remaining fish cakes.
TO SERVE: Divide the cucumber relish among individual dipping saucers. Arrange 3 or 4 cakes on each serving plate and place a saucer of the cucumber relish alongside. Serve warm.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
53 calories; 2g total fat; 19mg cholesterol; 398mg sodium; 8g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 1g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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