Inspired by Masterchef: Thai Fish Cakes

For my honeymoon 3 and a half years ago we went to Thailand, to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  I loved it – the atmosphere, the scenery, the weather, and the food of course.  So, last week on Masterchef I was delighted when the contestants were flown to Thailand to cook in a market and then for a royal banquet.   Some of the best food we ate was also in a market, so I was especially interested in the street food.   Like with lot of Thai food, the paste is the base of the dish and so the contestants spent a long time pounding away with pestle and mortars.   I was a little lazier.   I used my pestle and mortar to crush the galangal, as it’s quite tough but then put it in the blender with all the other ingredients to make the paste.    I then just added the fish to the blender once the paste was made.   So, really easy fish cakes, much easier than making them in a Thai market.   Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to make quite good ones.    I didn’t use any flour, which leads to a denser, heavier fishcake so they stayed really light and juicy, but held together well and were bursting with flavour.  Definitely one to make again.

I just served these with a little squeeze of lime juice but they would normally be served with sweet chilli sauce.  However, I’m not keen on sweet and savoury together so didn’t bother to make any.   But, after this week’s show focusing on pastry, I will now be making something sweet and next week is the last week so there’ll only be two more Inspired by Masterchef posts to go.   For now anyway.

Ingredients – Makes 6 fish cakes

4 largish red chillies, most of the seeds removed

2 tsp lemongrass paste or a fresh lemongrass stalk

4 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

Small knob of galangal

Handful of coriander leaves

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp fish sauce

200g white fish

1 lime (to serve)

How to make Thai Fish Cakes

1. In a pestle and mortar, crush the galangal then put in a food processor.   If using fresh lemongrass, also pound first in the pestle and mortar.  Add all the other ingredients to the food processor except the fish.   Blend to a paste.  Taste and made any adjustments if necessary.

2. Roughly chop the fish and add it to the food processor.

3. Take the mixture out of the food processor, using a tablespoon.   Place spoonfuls on a plate and flatten slightly.    Put in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and then fry the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.    Serve with lime wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry

Today I fancied lemongrass.  And that’s how tonight’s meal started.   Now lemongrass doesn’t go with saugages or stewing steak so it had to be chicken.  The rest of the ingredients were typical East Asian – chilli, ginger, garlic.   If I’d had a cold earlier it would be  gone by now.

Ingredients- Serves 2

250 g Chicken, thinly sliced

Tbsp Lemongrass paste (or fresh lemongrass if possible)

1 Chilli, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Knob of fresh  ginger, finely diced

Half yellow pepper, sliced thinly

Handful of green beans

2 Spring onions,1 finely diced for the marinade and one sliced for the stir fry

1 onion, sliced

1 tbsp fish sauce

1tbsp groundnut oil

Handful of dry-roasted peanuts, crushed

Noodles or rice to serve

How to make Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry

1. Finely dice 1 spring onion and mix with the sliced chicken and lemongrass.  Leave to marinate for 1 hour.

2. Put the noodles or rice on to boil according to packet instructions.

3. Heat the oil in a wok.  When it’s hot, add the chicken.  Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger, pepper, beans and onions.  Continue to stir fry for about a couple of minutes.  Add the fish sauce and approx 100ml of water and cook for another 2 minutes.  When ready serve over the rice or noodles and top with crushed dry-roasted peanuts.