This is the real deal, thot man pla, as taught in the Baan Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is a quick and easy recipe, using any type of fish, prawns or crab meat. The fish needs to be skinned, filleted and boned then minced, so any humble fish will do, or a mixture. Great for those days when you catch a load of odds and ends and nothing big enough to look good on a plate. Above is daughter Aedy under the watchful eye of our tutor.
For four (and you can do this just for yourself by dividing the quantities) you will need:
- 500g minced white fish meat, prawns or crab meat
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs red curry paste
- 1tbs plain flour or tempura flour for true authenticity
- 1 long bean or about 4 French beans sliced thinly
- 3 tbs finely sliced fresh kaffir lime leaves (see tip)
- salt to taste (half to one tsp)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Palm oil for deep frying (or your usual deep frying oil)
Mix together everything except the palm oil. It will be a bit sloppy, but don’t worry just yet.
Tip: kaffir lime leaves have a tough stem, to remove this simply fold in half length-ways with the stem uppermost, hold the leaf part in one hand and pull the stem up and away leaving the two halves of the leaf ready for slicing.
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan to a point where a cube of bread goes brown and crispy in 30 seconds. Spoon the mixture into the oil a blob at a time, each blob about the size of a walnut shell. After each blob lands, give it 20 seconds then squash the blob on the bottom of the pan or wok with a metal spatula to flatten it, then slide the next blob in. After each blobbing and squashing, go back to your now flat and sizzling fish cakes and gently turn them over. As they become brown and cooked-looking, scoop them out, let the oil drip off then put them on a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb more oil. If you get the timing right you will look busy for ten minutes but it is not difficult,
Serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, bottled is fine but you could make your own. A squeeze of lime is good too.