Monday, August 4, 2008

Friday Fried Thai Snacks

On Friday night I tried something new: I fried things. Now I know why I never fry things: because they taste really good, while managing to be very bad for you. I have herewith promised myself that I will not fry things more than once a month. But I will need to make these Thai fish cakes again, because they were so very very good. The corn fritters were tasty, too, but not nearly as yummy as the fish cakes, so I will probably try another companion snack for the fish cakes next time.

These are also from my blue Thai cookbook of wonderment, and I was truly astonished at how authentic the fish cakes (tod mun on most menus) came out compared to their restaurant brethren. They have a springy texture and a depth of flavour that gets a boost from finely slivered lime leaves and shredded coriander, and a nice spiciness from red curry paste. The book had a recipe for cucumber relish to serve with them, but whenever we order them at Nokham on Richmond Road, they come with a bowl of sweet chili sauce with chopped cucumber in it, so that's what I did - just doctored up my bottled sweet chili sauce with finely diced cucumber and a splash of white vinegar to give it some acidity and thin it out a little. It was absolutely perfect.

The corn fritters were, as I said, pretty good but not earth shattering - I think the ratio of corn to flour (for holding the fritters together) was off a little, and using fresh rather than frozen corn kernels would help too. Perhaps when the sweet corn comes in during the next couple of weeks I'll cut the kernels off a few ears and try these again. They could surprise me.

Taken together these made a lovely and slightly illicit Friday night meal. I was so pleased with myself for not burning anything or setting myself/the stove/the kitchen on fire. It ended up being a fun challenge and one I look forward to repeating... but not too often.

Corn fritters

kernels from 3 corn cobs (I used about 1.5 cups frozen)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red or green chili, seeded and minced
1 green onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp fish sauce
3/4 cup flour or rice flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbsp water
salt and pepper

canola oil for shallow frying

Combine all ingredients except oil; stir to combine. You should have a batter that holds its shape but is not too thick.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add spoonfuls of the mixture, flattening to create a roundish fritter. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Serve with sweet chili sauce.

Tod mun (Thai fish cakes)

3 kaffir lime leaves
300-gram cod fillet, cut into chunks
1-2 tbsp curry paste (I used 1 and they were piquant, not too hot)
1 egg
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

canola oil for frying

Combine fish. egg and curry paste in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Put the mixture into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Shape into cakes about 1/4" thick, and 2" across (I got 10 cakes). Heat the oil in a deep sided frying pan over medium-high heat; fry the cakes until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with cucumber-spiked sweet chili sauce.

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