Life & Style Weekend - - FOOD & WINE - mag­gies.col­[email protected]­ WEEK­END COOK WORDS: MAG­GIE COOPER

I still re­mem­ber the first time I tasted Thai food, in a res­tau­rant in Syd­ney in the mid-80s. The flavours were fresh and ex­cit­ing after decades of overly sweet, Western­ised sub­ur­ban Can­tonese. I don’t re­call other Asian of­fer­ings un­til much later, when I dis­cov­ered Burmese, Cam­bo­dian and Viet­namese de­lights. I re­main a huge fan. I started mak­ing th­ese de­li­cious Thai fish cakes, or tod mun pla, not long after I tried them in that long-ago res­tau­rant; and they are easy to make. This recipe is based on the one I used back then; it was orig­i­nally cre­ated by Mo­gens Bay Es­bensen but it has evolved from there.


1 small red cap­sicum, seeded and pith re­moved, chopped; 3 finely chopped birds-eye chill­ies, seeds re­moved, di­vided; 2 cloves gar­lic, peeled and crushed; small piece fresh gin­ger, grated; 2 stalks fresh lemon grass (white sec­tion only), crushed and chopped; 1 tbsp fish sauce; 500g firm white fish fil­lets, skinned, boned and diced (try snap­per, trevally or ling); 1⁄3 cup co­conut cream; 1 large free-range egg; 125g snake beans; oil, for fry­ing; 1 small le­banese cu­cum­ber, peeled and diced; 1 tbsp sugar; 2 tbsp white vine­gar; 1 tbsp chopped span­ish onion or green onion


Process cap­sicum, two of the chill­ies, gar­lic, gin­ger, lemon grass and fish sauce in a blender un­til a paste is formed. Add fish, co­conut cream and egg to paste and process un­til smooth. Stir in finely sliced beans, cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least two hours, prefer­ably overnight. Place cu­cum­ber, sugar, re­main­ing chilli and chopped onion in a small bowl and stir to com­bine; cover and re­frig­er­ate for 30 min­utes. Us­ing an ice-cream scoop, form balls of the paste and flat­ten slightly. Heat oil in a large fry­pan over medium-high heat. Cook three or four at a time un­til golden, turn­ing once. Keep warm while you cook the re­main­der. Serve im­me­di­ately with pick­led cu­cum­ber sauce.

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