Thai-Style fishcakes

To me, a fishcake should be crispy on the outside, soft and tasty on the inside.  Just solid enough to slide from pan to plate – but once your fork breaks through the crust it should find yielding, creamy filling.  Too many fishcakes are dry and frankly a bit boring.  Give these a try!  One tip – it’s not a quick fix unless you have ready-made, leftover mashed potatoes, so it might be worth making extra with your sausages just to give you an excuse!  I’ve given you the recipe here making the mash from scratch just for this  - because actually they are worth it. Makes 10 large fishcakes – enough for 5 hungry adults!

750g floury potatoes such as King Edward or Desiree (peeled weight)
Half a teaspoon of salt
30g butter
120ml full fat milk
350g wrasse fillets
2 tsp grated galangal or ginger (I buy galangal in Chinatown and freeze it, then grate straight from frozen off the block.  Saves me buying it specially for just one recipe!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stalk lemongrass, quartered lengthways and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then shredded finely
2 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tsp grated palm sugar or unrefined dark brown sugar
1 large handful fresh coriander, chopped
2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped (or 1 tsp chilli powder)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 large egg, beaten
Fresh breadcrumbs, a good bowlful ( I slice stale crusty bread and dry it in the oven for half an hour, then whizz it in the food processor – the nubbly, uneven texture gives a superb crunch! Rye bread is even better.)
Plain flour, about 6 tbsp

1) Cut the potatoes into evenly sized pieces and place in a big pan with the salt and bring to the boil, cooking until fork tender.  Drain then return to the pan over a medium heat for a minute to dry them.  Beat in the butter and mash well, then gradually beat in the milk.  Set aside.

2) Put the wrasse fillets in a frying pan with about half a pint of water and a pinch of salt then poach over medium heat until cooked and tender.  Drain off the liquid and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, combine the galangal or ginger, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar and chilli.  Then add the mashed potato, combining well until the mixture is even.  Add the coriander and mix briefly, followed by the flaked fish.  I like to flake the fish in by hand as it’s the best way to check for bones.

4) Mix this all together and set aside.  Put the beaten egg, flour and breadcrumbs into separate bowls.
This makes about 10 large fishcakes.  For each one, take a handful of mixture, shape it into a round, flattish pattie and turn gently in the flour.  I’d suggest you do all the shaping and flouring before moving on to the next stage – sticky fingers!

5) Then each one needs to be dipped in egg, then breadcrumbs, pressing gently to get them evenly covered.  The breadcrumbing is a good activity for the children – my five-year old son did a wonderful job and thoroughly enjoyed himself!

4) Once they are all prepared, heat a couple of frying pans and put about half a centimetre of vegetable oil in each.  When the oil is hot, fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on each side, turning gently with a fish slice or spatula when the underside is well browned.

I like to serve these with Thai sweet chilli sauce and a crisp salad.

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