I worked and travelled in Thailand for one summer and ended up staying in Chiang Mai for 3 days in the desperate search to see an elephant. The 3 days then turned into 2 weeks, as I lost track of time. I never did get to meet an elephant in that particular city except for one sad, wizened elephant who accompanied its master through a seedy district of town as a novelty for tourists. Although my exposure to these ancient pachyderms was a letdown, the rest of the city had plenty to offer.
I could spend countless posts praising or describing this incredible country, but will instead just focus on the couple of days when I signed up for Thai cooking classes at the renowned Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, run by Thailand’s answer to Emeril: Chef Sompon. Classes would typically begin after lunch and last until dinner time and would include the preparation of 5 or 6 traditional dishes. Even though meals were spaced out, I would still skip breakfast each day just to make room for the feast that would follow. The Thai fish cakes were one of the meals made on the second day of my class and it was probably one of the only seafood dishes I recall eating during my stay. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
2 cups vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups any white fish fillets, minced
5 tbsp red curry paste
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 egg, beaten
8 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp palm sugar
8 long beans thinly sliced (you can just use regular green beans)
6 tbsp water
6 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped roughly
2 tbsp cucumber, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1. To make the dipping sauce, add the water, vinegar and sugar into a pan and dissolve the sugar over low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes.
2. Turn off the heat and add the chilli powder, peanuts and cucumber. Let cool and then sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
3. To make the fish cakes, mix all the fish cake ingredients together in a medium bowl.
4. Shape the fish cake mixture into small, flat cakes about 3 inches across.
5. Pour oil into a heated wok and when the oil is hot add the fish cakes, placing them in gently so as not to splash hot oil.
6. Fry until they begin to turn golden brown (2 to 3 minutes). When cooked, remove and place cakes on paper towel.
7. Serve the fish cakes hot, with dipping sauce and garnished with additional cilantro.