The Best Thai Fish Cakes …… just keep on going

Here’s another favourite dish of mine, a recipe that I often make at home and am invariably asked for the recipe. I can’t lay claim to the original recipe but I have adapted it over the years. My latest version has a combination of white and oily fish – equal proportions; something about just using the flesh of white fish is almost too “restaurant smart” not enough of the Thai street stall about them for my liking.

I’ve also taken to baking them – cutting the frying out completely. It’s simple all you need to do is preheat the oven to 180, lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with greaseproof paper and place the fish ball-cakes on – leaving a little space around them. Cook for approximately 15 minutes and then turn them over and continue cooking for a further 10 to 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

The recipe is in stages and I do make my own red curry paste – you don’t have to, but if you’d like to give it a try you’ll be surprised at how easy it is; leftover batches can be easily frozen for next time and wow does it taste good!  So without further ado, happy cooking my friends.

Do you have a special foodie moment in your life? One which stands out from the crowd? Mine is eating freshly made Fish Cakes from a stall at the night market in Tradt, Thailand. As fast as the ladies could pat the mixture into patties, fry them and dish them out in clear plastic bags, they were sold and eaten.

Everytime I have Thai fish cakes I compare them to my famous Tradt ones. The nearest I’ve ever come to matching them is a Rick Stein recipe. It has the right balance of fish, classic Thai flavours and the all important chilli kick. Plus I like the addition of the green beans, for a bit of crunch.

I’ve used this recipe for years and I use any cheapish white firm fish I can get, frozen is good too. It really doesn’t have to be the best cut or most expensive for these fish cakes, all I try to make sure is that it’s sustainably fished.

One thing I would recommend you do is to make the dipping sauce, it works brilliantly with the fish cakes – tangy vinegar with a kick of chilli and the sweet addition of sugar make for a perfect blend.

I’ve used the quantities as Rick Stein uses in his recipe, but as I’ve made these for myself for years I kind of ignore the exact quantities and just go for a general feel and look. Either way they are delicious. This batch made about 20 small fish cakes, if you don’t want to cook that many at once simply freeze a portion of the mix for another day.

Asian Vinegrette (2)

Thai Fish Cakes

Ingredients ~

  • 450g / 1 lb ling or coley fillets, skinned and cut into chunks (alternative is Cod)
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs Red Curry paste
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf or 1 strip of lime zest finely shredded
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 40g / 1 1/2 oz french green beans thinly sliced into rounds
  • 150 ml / 5 fl oz oil

Sweet & Sour Thai Fish Cake Dipping Sauce

  • 50 ml / 2 floz white wine vinegar
  • 100 g / 4 oz caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbls water
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce (nom pia)
  • 50 g / 2 oz cucumber very finely diced
  • 25 g 1 oz carrot very finely diced
  • 25 g / 1 oz onion very finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, thinly sliced

Method ~

Dipping Sauce

  • Gently heat the vinegar, sugar and water in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved, boil for 1 minute, remove from heat, and cool
  • Stir in the cucumber, carrot, onion, fish sauce and chillies

Fish Cakes

  • In a food processor put the fish, the fish sauce, curry paste, kaffir lime leaf, coriander, egg, sugar and a pinch of salt
  • Process the ingredients into a fine and smooth paste – you may need to do this in small batches if you only have a small food processor
  • When mixed add the green beans and using a fork or spatula work them into the fish mixture
  • Divide the mixture into small balls, roll each one into a ball and then flatten into a disk .
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and when hot fry the fish cakes in batches until golden brown. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper
  • Serve with the dipping sauce

Oven baked Thai Fish Cakes –

  • If you would prefer to cook the fish cakes in the oven it’s simple –  all you need to do is preheat the oven to 180, lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with greaseproof paper and pop the fish ball-cakes on – giving a little space around them. Cook for approximately 15 minutes and then turn them over and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes until they are golden brown.


Fresh Red Curry Paste ~

Makes 75g / 3oz

  • 5 large red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh galangal or ginger
  • 1 tbls lemon grass
  • 3 tbls chopped garlic
  • 3 tbls roughly chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbls oil

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, add a tablespoon of water if needed.



  • Love fish cakes .. the ones we do is so different to what I got over in UK – this I will bookmark. I can feel the flavors through the screen, Claire.

      • Claire, I will do a post about Swedish fish cakes – they are more like hamburgers. Promise it will come up soon.

          • Have started on it …. but there is one ingredient that I can find the proper English word for – it a raisin that comes from Sicily – but has a Greek name, very sweet and small.
            When I translate it – it comes up as current. And ours is made on fresh herring.

          • No, not roll mops – and not soused … herring that has been laying in salt … we use it a lot. Only herring and salt in layers – and then they have to stand under weight for about 4-5 weeks.

          • A mission for you to jump on. *smile – then you soak the herrings in cold water for 24 hours before you use them.

          • 5 kg herring
            1 ½ kg of salt
            Cut off the head of the herring or herring. Magdra it, ie. pull out the intestines but let roe remain. Layering the fish in a pot or plastic bucket. Make sure each layer is covered with salt. Place on a plate or lid and refrigerate 2 – 3 weeks. Thereafter, the salty fish used for inlays, boxes and puddings. But water down the truth. Salt herring can be stored up to a year in a cool place.

  • I’m a huge fish cake fan, your recipe is quit different from mine, but looks amazing!

  • Another one for my daughter…she and her fiance LOVE Thai plus they eat a ton of fish. This will be a keeper, I’m sure!
    ps. So happy to see you posting frequently!

  • Our last exchange student was from Thailand, and she introduced us to fishcakes which I love. I’ve not tried to make them because our favorite Thai restaurant has delicious ones, and that’s good enough for me.

  • Gorgeous fish cakes and I am having cravings for a Thai Curry so will have to give your gorgeous paste a go! Love the food memory – mine is of a market in Rome which was across the road from our flat and my dad used to go out in the morning to get our breakfast and buy hot pizza bianca (pretty much like focaccia drizzled with crunchy salt and olive oil) and we ate it with fresh ripe figs squished over the top – salty, sweet, yeasty, fruity and the tang of olive oil….sigh!

  • Absolutely love Thai fish cakes, and am so looking forwards to trying all parts of your recipe. Actually I thought I was using Rick Stein’s ones, but these read differently so have to try soonest. I specially like your red curry paste: SO easy to put together . . I also do not put carrot or cucumber in my dipping sauce and must also try!! Thanks heaps!!!

    • I keep forgetting that Rick Stein spends a lot of time in Australia and it makes mw curious to know the difference in the recipes. … And I’m with you about how easy the paste is to make, besides it freezes brilliantly x

      • ‘Heaps’ is very much used Down Under instead of ‘a lot’!! Sort’of ‘less formal’ 🙂 ! I’ll try and find my recipes for this!. Yes, I do not quite know why but Rick Stein does seem to love the place and is here heaps 😉 ! . So much so he has a well spoken of restaurant on the South Coast of NSW in quite a small place called Mollymook ~ sadly yet to go!! I know he loves the availability and quality of our seafood, so guess that is it 🙂 !

        • and you know that every time I see the words heaps I say it in my head with my dodgy Ausie accent 🙂 best not heard out loud! From what I remember rick Stein lives at least part of the time in Australia. And like you I’ve never made it to one of his restaurants, maybe one day we’ll both make it ?!

    • It was my brother who started to bake them, and I’ve forgotten to acknowledge him. Timings may vary according to your oven but I think its a great way to cook them

  • I have enjoyed Crab Cakes for years, but never using white fish. And the Thai influence really appeals to me. I think it’s lovely that you associate these tasty cakes with your experience in a street stall in Thailand. I am trying to think if I have anything similar in my cooking/eating/travel experience, and I can’t say that I do! I’m going to have to think about that. 🙂 Thanks for such a tasty recipe, Claire. I can hardly wait to make that Curry Paste!

  • This is reminding me that my son hasn’t made fish cakes in a long while; I think I’ll suggest this treatment to mix things up as we love Thai flavours. Your memories of that Thai food stall are fantastic. Food memories are among the very best. Deep fried squid with a lemony/spicy dipping sauce comes to mind when I think of special food memories, but so does eating from the garden, which is like a distant memory at this time of the year!

    • Your food memory sounds delicious and I’m wondering where it was? I have a few others like eating freshly grilled octopus in a back street cafe in Athens, and fondue at our friends house – lots of happy memories!

  • These fish cakes look wonderful and I’m bookmarking them and the red curry paste recipe, thanks, Claire! My foodie moment was tasting a Cretan Hot Pot in Chania, Crete. Local lamb, wild greens, veggies and herbs cooked in a clay pot and topped with grated hard goat cheese. Now I want to see if I can find a recipe. 🙂

    • Betsy your food moment sounds sublime – lamb is a favourite of mine, and I can well imagine how good it must have tasted. I’ve never visited Crete, I’ve been to lots of other parts of Greece, maybe one day I’ll get there?!
      And I do hope you find the recipe and share it with us 🙂

      • It seems to be a local and family recipe, but it would be fun to reconstruct it to the best of my memory! Crete is gorgeous and diverse with many kinds of beaches, snow capped mountains and the beautiful Samaria Gorge to the west. We spent most of our time in western Crete and it’s one of the few places I could live in the world. Do go see it if you get the chance. From Heraklion over to Chania and to Paliochora, from northern to southern coast is just amazing. 🙂

  • Love Rick Stein recipes, and David Thompson ones too (funnily enough, Rick is a Brit living in Australia, and DT is an Aussie living in the UK!). Your fish cakes look divine – love the idea of mixing different sorts of fish – and you’re good to make your own curry paste. I buy mine! 🙂

    • he, he, it’s a funny old world isn’t it !
      I found the mixture of fish really worked Celia, the oily fish add flavour and I can recommend making your own pastes, they freeze brilliantly and taste WOW 🙂

  • Hi Claire. Nice looking fish cakes. I love recipes you have made so many times you don’t bother about quantities anymore.

    • Aren’t they the best recipes?! The ones where you add a little of this and a bit of that. No two dishes are the same – just as well I love variation in life Glenda !

  • mmmm my mouth is watering even though I’ve just eaten 2 shortbread fingers. yum yum. Since I moved to Cornwall I have missed all the ready availability of superb asian food, I used to make my own curry paste it’s just so amazingly delicious. I might have to buy some ingredients next time I’m near the right shopping area. Have you heard of the tip of freezing it in ice cube trays (the flexible ones) so you can just pop out the right amount for a curry or whatever – it really works!

    • I know what you mean about readily available foodstuffs, I rely on trips to Brighton or London for the harder to source stuff – though I suppose there is always internet shopping……
      and yes the ice cube thingy does work well, but I tend to make huge batches of Thai pastes and freeze them in small bags and boxes 🙂

  • I think some of my most memorable foods moments are in Thailand as well. Mine was is in Chingmai. Great food in the North! I could eat these fish cakes every day and love that dipping sauce. Great post Claire! Take Care, BAM

    • I’ve never been to the north of Thailand, remiss of me I know! But I’ve eaten a few northern Thai dishes and wow, they are good! Thanks for popping in 🙂

  • I know I’d love these. My youngest balks at anything with fish, but this would be perfect for when my college girls are home. I can’t narrow down one particular special food moment–too many, which I guess is good!

  • Hi, Claire! This is one recipe I’ve never thought to try and I’m so glad you’ve got it here. I know my hubs and kids would love these.. and they’re perfect with a side salad for a lighter dinner. When you say white an oily fish together, what types would you select? I don’t think we have the kind you mention in your recipe.. we’re pretty generic here.. halibut, sole, etc. Which would you recommend me try? Halibut is pricey but I’d buy it if it makes the best cakes. xx

    • I love them Smidge, they really are a favourite around here. OK as to fish I would use the cheapest white fish you can get, honestly these don’t need expensive cuts of fish. recently I’ve used Cod as that has been the cheapest (which in my head is ridiculous). Good quality frozen fish would work, and if it’s sustainably fished even better! I’m thinking Halibut would be lovely, sole would be wasted, Huss would be good too. Try them with just white fish first and then if you like them I add about 1/2 a mackerel for the oily fish . I use the mackerel as they are locally fished, I think Salmon would be a waste and the flavours wouldn’t be right.
      I do hope you get to try them, and you can always reduce the number of chillies – these are Thai style hot 🙂
      Hope you have a super week x

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