Tod mon pla – Thai fishcakes
Working on a recipe to recreate my favourite tod mon pla is an ongoing labour of love. I make them obsessively, trying things out and changing ingredients and quantities, then stop for a while before taking up the challenge again.
Having needed a break from the last round of experimenting, I haven’t given them a go for a couple of years. I’ve previously tried making them with egg and with coconut milk, I’ve used different fish, I’ve even made a non-fish version with pork as well as made endless variations of the cucumber and peanut sauce.
I love the little slices of green beans hidden in tod mon pla, but for a while couldn’t work out how to get them to be slightly more well cooked, still with a bite, but not crunchy. I now blanch the sliced beans before using. An added benefit of blanching green vegetables is that it means they stay a really bright green, which is a great trick for keeping green veg in stir fries looking fresh too.
It may well be my life’s work to refine these hot morsels of deliciousness! Here’s where I am with them today.
Makes 8 fishcakes.
1/2 lb / about 225g white fish
1 tbspn red curry paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 green chilli
1 tsp sugar
zest of 1/2 – 1 lime
squeeze of lime juice
handful of coriander leaves, chopped
a few green beans, sliced in very fine rounds
oil for frying
Put a pan of water on to boil for the green beans. Then put all the fishcake ingredients (except the beans!) into a food processor, if using, or mortar or other heavy bowl for pounding if not.
Mix or pound until smooth – but be careful if using a food processor as it will come together really quickly and you don’t want it pureed. Turn the mixture out into a bowl.
As soon as the water comes to the boil, drop in the slices of green beans for around 20 seconds, drain and rinse in cold water to stop them cooking any further.
Add the beans to the mixture and combine.
Then just roll into eight little patties – squeezing out any juice – and flatten. They can be cooked straight away or, as I did, popped in the fridge for half an hour or so to firm up a little more.
While they firm up, make the cucumber dipping sauce. Quantities are up to you! The only things I think you really need for this are:
rice or white wine vinegar
Today I also used a spring onion and a piece of ginger.
Chop all the vegetables really finely (or get the food processor to earn its keep again).
Combine approx two parts vinegar with one part sugar, but do keep tasting until you like it, perhaps adding a little more sugar, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the chopped vegetables and top with crushed roasted peanuts, either as they are, or toasted in a dry pan first.
Today, I also added a splash of soy sauce at the end. So just experiment and see what you like.
Back to the fishcakes …
Heat a wok or frying pan and then add quite a bit of vegetable cooking oil, around 3 tablespoons, as they should be almost deep fried.
Add the fishcakes to the hot oil, cooking in batches if need be, and cook for 1.5 – 2 minutes each side.
Drain on kitchen paper and eat immediately with the cucumber dipping sauce.
And then please let me know what you think in the comments box below!