Thai Fish Cakes are a classic Thai street food and my favourite starter at Thai restaurants along with Chicken Satay. It’s surprisingly easy to make at home – all you need is fish, red curry paste, egg, corn or rice flour and fish or soy sauce. Everything else is optional!
Thai fish cakes
If I order an appetiser at a Thai restaurant, 9 times out of 10 it will be Thai Fish Cakes. It’s one of the most popular Thai starters!
They’re kind of difficult to describe. The key flavouring is Red Curry Paste so the taste is very classic South East Asian.
But it’s the texture that is rather unique. It sounds rather unappetising actually, when I tell people they are kind of spongey. Softer and less chunky texture than meatballs, and they hold together better.
And like household sponges (seriously cannot believe I’m comparing these to sponges….?), these Thai Fish Cakes hold moisture and suck up liquid from anything it comes into contact with, so when you bite into it, all that flavour squeezes out into your mouth.
Here’s a nice close up of inside the Thai Fish Cakes. Sponge-like, no?? (Baby Hands Alert!)
I’m sure many people have ordered plenty of Thai Fish Cakes in their time but have never thought to make it at home. Truth be told, I didn’t go hunting for the recipe myself. I think I subconsciously just assumed it was one of “those recipes” that are difficult to make at home.
Then I stumbled across a recipe when I was killing time in a library, perked up instantly when I saw how easy it was to make – with no strange ingredients. Made it once, was instantly addicted, and over the years it has probably evolved because this is one of those recipes that I can now make on auto pilot so I had to actually measure the ingredients properly to share it with you!
How to make Thai Fish Cakes
- Place fish, red curry paste (homemade or store bought), cilantro/coriander, egg, lime juice and fish sauce in a food processor, whizz to mince;
- Mix in rice or cornflour (cornstarch); and
- Drop mixture in skillet and cook.
See? Do you really need me to write out the whole recipe for you??? (Don’t worry, I did! I always do!)
Thai Fish Cakes are a classic Thai street food that you’ll find all over Thailand, from Bangkok to the popular tourist islands like Pukhet and Koh Samui (I really need to go back soon, I miss Thailand!!). For full disclosure, here are the 2 things I do differently to the real authentic Fish Cakes made in Thailand:
- Inclusion of rice flour – Truly authentic recipes are made with fish paste which is starchy fish (yes there is such thing!) that has been fermented and is a pretty smooth paste. This is then beaten for ages (i.e. 30 minutes by hand!) to activate the starch and this is the secret to beautifully bouncy, spongey fish cakes. However, in Western countries, the same texture is achieved by starting with fish fillets, minced them and mixing in either rice flour or cornflour (cornstarch). I am
95%97% sure that the majority of Thai restaurants I’ve been to here in Sydney make it this way; and
- I don’t deep fry! In both Thailand and restaurants, Thai Fish Cakes are deep fried. I really believe that very little compromise is made by pan frying instead of deep frying!
If you try these, and I really hope you do, all it will take is one bite to be overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity. These really do taste just like what you get at Thai restaurants!
Happy weekend everyone! I hope it’s filled with lots of fun, laughter and plenty of great food! – Nagi x
Make a meal out of it – serve these on the side
- Steamed Jasmine rice or Coconut Rice
- Crunchy Asian Slaw on the side – great all rounder Asian salad that goes with all Asian foods
- Asian Sesame Dressing for any fresh salad or steamed vegetables
More Thai takeout favourites
- Pad Thai – truly just like takeout!
- Thai Red Curry
- Massaman Curry
- Thai Fish Cakes
- Thai Fried Rice
- Pad See Ew – Thai stir fried noodles
- Browse the Thai recipe collection
Thai Fish Cakes
- 1 lb / 500g white fish fillets , cut into chunks (anything will work)
- 2 tbsp red curry paste (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves , chopped
- 3 tsp fish sauce (or sub with light soy sauce)
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup rice flour (or cornstarch / corn flour)
- 6 green beans , finely sliced (optional - it's used in authentic recipes)
- 4 - 6 tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, sun flower)
- Sweet chilli sauce
- Cilantro/coriander leaves
- Lime wedges
- Place fish, red curry paste, cilantro/coriander, fish sauce, lime and egg in a food processor. Whizz until the fish is minced.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir through rice flour and green beans.
- Fill a shallow dish with a bit of water (to wet the egg flip so it doesn't stick to the fish cakes).
- Heat enough oil in skillet over medium high heat to cover the base (3 - 4 tbsp)
- Place 1/4 cup (I use an ice cream scoop - Note 2) of batter in the skillet and pat down to 1cm / 2/5" thick with a spatula dipped in water. I cook 4 to 5 at a time. Cook for 3 minutes until deep golden brown, then turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil into the skillet if required.
- Serve Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet Chilli Sauce, garnished with cilantro/coriander leaves and lime wedges on the side.
LIFE OF DOZER
Snippet from Life As Dozer. He basically has 4 modes: playing, sleeping, eating food or hoping for food. He lives a hard, hard life, doesn’t he?