Tod mun pla (Thai fishcakes)
Prep 5 min
Cook 20 min
Makes 16–18, depending on size
- 250g skinless white fish fillets
- 2 heaped tbsp Thai red curry paste (making it fresh just for fishcakes seems a faff, so just buy a good ready-made one)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp green beans, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp finely sliced makrut lime leaves – the best way to do this is to roll them up like tight cigars, and chop
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1–2 tbsp nam pla(Thai fish sauce), or to taste
- Oil, for deep-frying
Put the fish, curry paste and egg into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the beans and lime leaves, then add the sugar, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of fish sauce.
Heat a little oil in a wok, and fry a piece of the fishcake mix to check the seasoning: different curry pastes have different balances of flavour, so add more fish sauce or sugar, if you need to.
Slap the mixture around the bowl a bit to aerate it – this is how you achieve the puffy, springy texture of a classic Thai fishcake. (The secret of a good Thai fishcake is in the texture: it has to be spongy, almost rubbery, and far removed from the flaky, western-style things you get in pubs.) Wet your hands slightly, and form the fishcake mix into flattish patties. You choose the size – you can have them as big as a plate or bite-size. I prefer to make smaller ones, because I like to serve them with drinks.
Heat the oil in a wok until it’s hot (if you’re using a deep-fryer, set it to 180C/350F). Fry the fishcakes in batches until puffy and brown – two to three minutes a batch – transfer to kitchen paper to drain, and serve at once.
Tod mun fukthong (pumpkin fritters)
Prep 20 min
Cook 20 min
- 4 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch sugar
- 300g shredded or grated pumpkin (from about 600g unpeeled) – I prefer the texture of shredded, but do whatever suits you best
- 2 tbsp glutinous (sticky) rice flour
- 6 tbsp rice flour
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the ajad(quick pickle)
- 100ml vinegar
- 100g superfine caster sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1–2 mild green chillies, thinly sliced
- 1 small handful coriander leaves, to garnish
For the pickle, heat the vinegar, sugar and two tablespoons of water in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the salt, then take off the heat and leave to cool. Add the chillies to the cooled mixture just before serving (they will go soggy otherwise), then garnish with coriander.
For the fritters, lightly crush the chillies, garlic, salt and sugar in a mortar. Scrape into a bowl with the pumpkin and stir gently to combine. Add both the rice flours, then stir in enough water to make a batter with a soft, dropping consistency.
Heat the oil in a wok until it’s hot (if you’re using a deep-fryer, set it to 180C/350F). Form the mixture into loose patties (use about a heaped tablespoon per fritter) and fry in batches until crisp and golden – about three minutes – then transfer to kitchen paper to drain, and serve hot with the pickle.
Ma hor (pork with pineapple and orange)
Prep 20 min
Cook 20 min + cooling
Makes About 36
- 3 coriander roots, finely chopped (you’ll find them in the freezer section of Asian food shops; if you can’t get hold of any, use a handful of coriander stems instead)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 Thai shallots (or 1 regular shallot), peeled and finely sliced (optional)
- 250g minced pork, or a mixture of minced pork and minced prawns
- 2 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
- 4 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, smashed, to serve
- 1 pineapple, trimmed, cored, sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2–4 oranges (depending on size), peeled and sliced fairly thickly (use blood oranges when they’re in season)
- 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
- 1 handful fresh coriander leaves
In a mortar, pound the coriander roots, garlic and peppercorns to a paste.
In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil, then stir-fry the paste for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add the shallots, if using, and stir into the paste for 30 seconds or so. Add the pork (or pork and prawns) and stir into the paste until well combined.
Add the fish sauce and palm sugar, stirring and frying until the meat is cooked – three to five minutes. You’re looking for a texture akin to jam. Taste and adjust the seasoning: add more palm sugar or fish sauce, if you think it needs it. You want a salty, sweet, sticky mass.
Add the peanuts and continue to cook until the mixture turns quite thick, like fudge. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. You can do all this ahead of time, even the day before you want to serve it; keep it refrigerated once cooled. You can also keep the fruit slices refrigerated for ease.
Just before serving, roll the pork mix into balls of an appropriate size to fit on top of the pineapple and orange pieces, garnish each one with a sliver of chilli and a coriander leaf, and serve at once.
Seua rong hai (grilled beef with dipping sauce)
Prep 5 min
Marinate 15 min
Cook 15 min
- 400g sirloin or rib-eye steak
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
For the nam jim jaew(roasted chilli dipping sauce)
- 1 tsp toasted rice powder (see below)
- 3 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1–2 tbsp ground roasted chilli powder
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
- ½ tsp roasted chilli flakes
- 2 small Thai shallots (or 1 regular shallot), peeled and finely sliced
- ½ tsp palm sugar
Marinate the steak in the soy sauce and vegetable oil for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, make the toasted rice powder. Put a large handful of uncooked sticky rice, or normal Thai jasmine rice, in a dry wok or frying pan over a low heat and toast it, moving it all the time, until it smells nutty and turns a dark golden-brown. Grind in a spice mill, coffee grinder or mortar, and store in a jar.
Heat a grill pan or barbecue until it’s properly hot. Slap on the steak and grill to your liking – five to six minutes for rare, no more than eight for medium – then rest for five to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Slice the steak very thinly and serve with the dipping sauce.