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TOD MUN PLA ~ Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber-Cilantro Sauce

Tod Mun Pla is hands down one of the our favorite dishes to order when we have Thai cuisine. I love the aroma of kafir lemon leaves in each bite.

Traditionally the recipe is made with fish paste but it works just so well with fresh salmon or catfish that why bother? Its also nearly impossible to get fish paste without the add-ins like tapioca and MSG which in my books is the the stuff to avoid.

Scottsdale brought us close to RJ's family and God bless Sasi who was Thai. We've had the best Thai food on weekends at their home while our kids played together. I often miss the Arizona blazing heat and the smell of the red earth. Nothing like it in the world!

So I'm thoroughly pleased that after all these years I continue to use Sasi's recipe for papaya salad and Thai fish cakes which were part of almost every meal.

The green beans were a big surprise when I first learnt to make these - who would have thunk! But oh so good for the added texture and hey! at least you can say you're getting your veggies.

The cucumber dipping sauce is essential and is more of the adjust to your taste variety where a simple sugar syrup is made and then vinegar, chilli paste and peanuts, chopped cilantro are added. You can adjust these ingredients depending on the flavor you want tickling your palete.

Either way the sauce is set aside for an hour or so to chill & meld while you prepare the fish cakes.

Tod Mun Pla will make a great addition to your appetizer spread. Best served straight off the stove of course!



Recipe for:

TOD MUN PLA ~ Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber-Cilantro Sauce

Shopping list:

1 lb fatty fish fillets, salmon or catfish (skinned and deboned)

3 tbs red Thai curry paste, Maesri brand

1 tbs fish sauce

Long snake beans or fresh green beans, to yield 1 cup-full thinly sliced

Fresh Kaffir lime leaves (to yield 1 tbs full thin slivers)

½ tbs + 1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

2 tbs ice cold water

Cucumber-Cilantro dipping sauce

½ cup sugar

¼ cup water

¼ cup vinegar

½ cup chopped cucumber

2 tbs chopped cilantro

1 tsp Sambal (red chilly paste)

¼ cup peanuts, broken into little pieces

Vegetable oil for frying

Good to know: Traditionally Feather Back Fish Paste  is used for this recipe and it can sometimes be found in the freezer section. However it is hard to find and even if you do find it is even harder to find it without tapioca flour and MSG. So I prefer to use fresh fish for this recipe with no preservatives.

Fish: Place in kitchen paper towels and in a sieve to capture any excess moisture. Fish should be as dry as possible.

Green beans: Slice very thin diagonally and set aside.

Cilantro: Separate any tough stalks. Chop as fine as possible and set aside. Soak in water to keep from browning.

Cucumber: Peel and chop. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Dipping sauce:

In a sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to a boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Once slightly cool, add the vinegar, cucumber, cilantro, peanuts and chilly paste. Whisk to combine.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Refrigerate to meld flavors until fish cakes are ready.


Fish Cakes:

In a food processor bowl, add the fish and process to a paste. Add 2 tbs ice cold water and continue until a fine paste.

Add the Thai curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and salt. Process until thoroughly combined and the paste is sticky to touch.

Remove to a mixing bowl. Add the green beans and Kaffir lime leaves and continue to combine until mixed.

Taste test : Make a small patty with 1 tsp of the mixture. Heat a small non-stick pan and add 1/2 tsp oil. Once heated, add the patty and pan-fry for a minute on each side. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Measure 2 tbs of the fish paste and form a circle in the palm of clean hands. Flatten to form ¼” thick disks. Repeat until all the fish paste is formed into cakes.

In a flat bottomed frying pan or skillet, add oil to 1/2 inch depth. Heat on medium-LOW heat until the oil is hot but not fuming.

Line a platter with kitchen paper towels and keep handy near stove.

Fry 2-3 fish cakes at a time so not to over crowd the pan on low heat slowly allowing them to slowly brown.

Fry for about 2-3 minutes on all sides, gently turning in the oil until a rich golden brown.

Remove to the lined platter and serve IMMEDIATELY with the chilled dipping sauce.

Pour heap-fuls of the sauce with cucumber and all over the fish cakes and



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