This is another one of those weird ideas that came to me in a day dream about food. When I get these ideas I send them to myself by email so I don’t forget them, then when I have a bit of time (or the right ingredients) I can give it a go. It’s been so long since I thought of this I can’t really remember where I was or what I was thinking, but this is a reinterpretation of the Thai fishcake dish Tod Mun Pla.
Tod Mun is traditionally a fried golden brown fishcake that’s loaded with spicy red curry and fragrant kaffir lime leaves. Inside they are soft and juicy with with crunchy bits of Chinese long bean and they’re usually served with a sweet and tart sauce that has chopped cucumbers and red onions in it.
While I love the original, I wanted to experiment with something lighter and more fluffy, floating in a sea of cool cucumber water and topped with a tart crispy red onion salad. To achieve this, I added baking powder to the fish cake to give it some fluff and steamed it instead of pan frying for a lighter taste. The cucumber water is essentially strained cucumber juice that would make a wonderfully refreshing cold soup on it’s own and the thai chili sauce and onion salad make for sweet and tart accents that round out the dish nicely.
I reserved the pulp from making the cucumber water and mixed it with some plain yogurt to make a nice cooling dip for Lamb and Veggie Kebabs.
for cucumber water
- 2 cucumbers peeled and roughly cubed (no need to seed them)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cups water
- 1/2 lime juice of (about 2 Tbs)
for red onion salad
- 1/4 cups red onion (diced)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
for fish cake
- 3/4 pound fish boneless skinless white meat (I used cod)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (if your red curry paste is really salty you may want to cut back)
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (sliced into a thin chiffonade)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Thai sweet chili sauce
- Put all the ingredients for the cucumber water in a food processor and puree. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve (such as a chinois) or empty the contents into a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze out the cucumber juice. Put the juice in the fridge and reserve the pulp for something else.
- For the onion salad, just add all the ingredients into a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Add some water to a steamer that's big enough to hold 4 ramekins and heat.
- Make sure the fish has no bones by running your fingers along it then chop it into rough chunks and throw it in a food processor. Process until it's a smooth paste. Add the egg, curry, mirin, corn starch, brown sugar, and salt and process until smooth and glossy, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times. Empty the mixture into a bowl and mix in the lime leaves and baking powder with a spatula.
- Liberally oil 4 ramekins and divide the fish paste between the ramekins. Press the mixture into the ramekins with a wet hand and smooth off the tops. Place the ramekins in the hot steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes or until the fishcakes have puffed up and are cooked through.
- When the ramekins are cool enough to handle, drain off any excess liquid and unmould into shallow bowls. Pour some of the chilled cucumber water around the fish cake, then add small droplets of sweet thai chili sauce to the cucumber water. Top the fish cake with the onion salad and some cilantro leaves.