You can make your own red curry paste if you wish but you can get away with a good-quality bought one. The secret to forming the quite sloppy mixture is wet hands - honest it works. You can use halibut, sea bass, pollock or coley depending on your budget. Delicious served with this salsa-like sauce.
500g/1lb 2oz skinned and pin-boned halibut fillet, chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 dessertspoon Thai red curry paste
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely sliced
1 thumb-sized piece galangal, chopped finely
1 stick lemongrass (the soft bit only), finely sliced
1 coriander root and leaves, chopped
1 free-range egg
1 tsp grated palm sugar
50g/1¾oz snake beans, sliced thinly (alternatively use French beans)
½ lime, juice only
plain flour, for dusting
3 tbsp groundnut oil, for shallow frying
For the fish cakes, place the fish, fish sauce, red curry paste, lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, coriander root, egg, palm sugar, beans, and lime juice in a food processor and blend to a paste. Alternatively this can be done in a pestle and mortar – pound the ingredients to a jelly-like paste.
Remove and, with damp hands, take a piece about the size of a walnut. Roll it into a ball and then flatten it to a thin disc. Lay on a floured plate. Repeat until all the mixture has been used. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
For the dip, beat together the vinegar, honey, two tablespoons of water, the lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust the honey and lime juice to get it sweeter or sourer, however you want it. Add the cucumber, carrot, shallot and chilli. Leave for 30 minutes to an hour for the flavours to develop.
Heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan and cook the fish cakes until golden-brown all over – this should take a couple of minutes on either side.
Serve on a banana leaf with the sauce in a dish to one side. Garnish with the lamb’s lettuce.
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