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Thod Man Pla, Fish Cakes Fried

Thai Food Recipe, Deep Fried Fish Cakes     

Thawd mun plaa or Thai fish cakes as they are called, belong to a group of popular Thai food dishes that can be relished as a snack or as part of a main meal. The recipe for these fried fish cakes has been provided in a detailed but simple way. We do hope that you have a great time trying to make the delicious Thod Man Pla fish cakes. The word 'thawd' or 'thod' in Thai means fried, and 'plaa' means fish. Just for your information, if you wanted to say that these fried fish cakes are very tasty, you would say "Thawd Man Plaa Aroi Maak". Aroi means tasty and Maak means very. There is a basic dipping sauce with which Thawd Man Plaa cakes are normally eaten with and we have provided the recipe for that dipping sauce too. The main ingredient in the Thai fish cake recipe is fish, rice or corn flour help to add consistency to the thawd man plaa cakes and make them firm. If you would like your food to be quite mild in taste, try using a lower amount of chillies than mentioned in this recipe.

thod man pla, thai fish cake fried recipe
The image clearly shows how Thai fried fish cakes look. The texture on the Thawd man pla is brought about by the processed fish fillets and the corn flour or rice flour that is added to the processed fish. The smaller plate has the crushed onion and chilles along with cucumber slices. You can eat your Thai fried fish cakes with this mixture or choose a dipping sauce of your choice.

 Ingredients For The Thai Fish Cake Recipe.

Firm white fillets. 450 grams.
Corn flour or rice flour 3 tablespoons.
Fish sauce 1 tablespoon.
Egg 1 egg well beaten.
Fresh coriander leaves 1 cup, leave unchopped.
Red curry paste ...  recipe. 3 teaspoons. (Optional)
Chopped red chillies 1 to 2 teaspoons.
Green beans 100 grams, slice finely.
Spring onions 2 onions, finely chopped.
Frying oil 1/2 (half) cup.

A few notes regarding the above ingredients would be helpful to you. The main ingredient in the recipe for these thawd man plaa cakes is the fish. If you are not confident of getting the recipe right the very first time, you can reduce the fish volume to half. You should ofcourse proportionately reduce the other ingredients too. The flour used to give good consistency to the fish in this recipe, should ideally be rice flour but, you could try corn flour if rice flour is not easily available. Some recipes for this fried fish cake recipe recommend that the coriander leaves be finely chopped. We have got better results by leaving the coriander leaves unchopped. Many cooks use readymade red curry paste but, if you wish to make this on your own, we have the recipe  here. Just how hot (with chillies) your thod man plaa cakes will be depends on two ingredients in the recipe. The red chillies and red curry paste will both add the hot flavor to the dish. Since it is quite likely that you would use readymade red chilli paste, you cannot control the amount of chillies used in the paste. For this reason, try moderating the hotness by leaving out the red chillies from the above ingredient list. Food stalls and eating houses around Thailand often reuse the cooking oil for a couple of days. We would suggest that you use fresh cooking oil when frying your fish cakes, this gives the best aroma and flavor to the thawd mun plaa cakes. Used cooking oil will always bring in a flavor of it's own when used in cooking.

The Cooking Process.

You will need a food processor to get all the ingredients together. Put the fish fillets in the processor and process for until a smooth paste is formed. This should take around 20 seconds. Keep in mind that we have not added any water to the ingredients until now.

We will now add other ingredients to the fish that has been processed in the processor. Each of the ingredients for the Thawd man plaa cakes has it's role to play in the final flavor or texture of the cakes, so do not leave any of them out. The exception could ofcourse be the red chillies which are optional. Add the corn flour (or rice flour), beaten egg, coriander leaves, red curry paste, chopped chillies and fish sauce to the processor that has the fish. Process for another 10 seconds, this should be enough to combine all the ingredients together.

Notice that we have not added two ingredients mentioned in the fish cake recipe into the food processor, these are the green beans that were sliced ant the chopped spring onions. We will now work with these ingredients but before that, transfer the mixture from the food processor to a large bowl. Keep mixing the mixture in the bowl while you add the beans and the spring onions. Mix well and ensure that the bowl contents now form a homogenous mass. You will now needed to shape the mixture into something like patties. We will do this with the hand so wet your hands a bit. Then pick about two tablespoons of the mixture and place it in your hand. Slowly pat the paste to form the patties shaped fish cakes. The above image of the fried fish cakes will show you the preferred shape for these cakes.

We will now do the frying of the thod mun plaa cakes. For doing this we would recommend a fairly large frying pan that can hold around 3 to 4 fish cakes. A heavy based frying pan will provide a more evenly spread heating so, you should try to use one such frying pan. Set the heat to medium and start heating the oil in the frying pan. Put around 3 to 4 of the shaped patties into the frying pan, the fish cakes would turn a deepish brown color when completely fried. The color of the thawd man plaa cakes can be seen clearly in the images on this page, try to get as close a color to these as possible.

When you take the fried thawd man pla cakes out of the frying pan, we would suggest that you place them on a bunch (8 to 10 sheets) of paper towels.This will help take off some of the oil, and is a step that is these days followed for almost every deep fried dish. The fish cakes can now be served with a dipping sauce or a mixture of crushed chillies, onions and sliced cucumber as shown the image.

thawt mun pla, deep fried fish cakes
This close up image of the Thai fish cakes shows the color and texture that is desired for this dish. On the top right corner is the mixture that is often eaten along with the Thai thod man plaa cakes.

Basic Dipping Sauce, Also Called Naam Phrik

Take a bowl and add around 1/4 cup of fish sauce. A tablespoon of white vinegar is also to be added to the bowl. Take 1 or 2 red chillies and finely chop them, add them to the contents in the bowl. If you prefer to have moderately hot food, use just 1 red chilli to make this dipping sauce. A tablespoon of white vinegar (cooking grade) should now be added to the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar into the bowl, Thai cooks often use brown sugar for this purpose. Stir the contents in the bowl until the sugar has disolved in the mixture. We will use coriander here too but, not the leaves. The stem of the coriander plant is finely chopped and added into the bowl. You now have the very popular basic dipping sauce that, can be eaten along with the Thai fried fish cakes.

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