Thai fishcakes

If you’re craving something crisp, packed with flavour and full of fresh herbs and zingy spice flavours, nothing else will do: you need Thai fishcakes. This recipe uses creamed coconut, which gives you a really velvety texture inside the fishcake, along with a powder-crisp surface.

I really enjoy a little pile of fishcakes with rice and a vegetable as a main course or on their own with salad for a starter, but these are also great for serving as canapes at large parties. To make about 20 little fishcakes, you’ll need:

1 stem lemongrass
3 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece galangal (substitute ginger if you can’t find any)
4 kaffir lime leaves
zest of 1 lime
1 bird’s eye chilli
1 large handful fresh coriander
½ red pepper
100g creamed coconut
1lb white fish, filleted (I used haddock)
salt and pepper
flour for coating

Peel the lemongrass, galangal and garlic and put them in the food processor with the lime leaves, zest, chilli, coriander, red pepper and creamed coconut. Whizz until everything is finely chopped. Add the fish and seasoning, and pulse until the fish is incorporated but not sloppy.

Remove the mixture to a bowl, and form into little fishcakes with a diameter the length of your thumb. (See picture for thickness.) Dip each Thai fishcake into plain flour and fry in hot oil for about four minutes per side, until golden brown. You should fry these in batches of about six to avoid crowding your pan – keep cooked fishcakes in a cool oven until they are all ready.

I served these with some blended lime juice and fish sauce, and some Thai sweet chilli sauce.

South-Asian spiced fishcakes

My Mum recited this recipe, which she had just conjured from thin air, down the telephone the other evening. I’m always in the market for good store-cupboard recipes, and this sounded excellent: something to use up that can of good, fatty fish; some mellow and fiery curry spices; last night’s mashed potato; the eggs left over from my last cake; and some of the herbs clogging the fridge. This is a recipe where you need a canned fish rather than something fresh; it’s rich and moist but flaky, which is exactly what you require here.

I love Mummy’s fishcakes. They made a regular appearance on the table when I was a little girl, and since then she’s refined and tweaked them into something quite fantastic. They’re also very quick to prepare if you have some mashed potato hanging around, so next time you prepare some as an accompaniment, make a pound or so extra so you can try these the next day.

The little patties are dusted with cornflour to make them crisp and golden; we eat them with rice and some very serious feelings of gratitude. For about 16 fishcakes you’ll need:

1 can Alaskan red salmon (I went for Alaskan salmon because I’d just been reading Legerdenez, a perfume blog from Alaska which I commend to you – if you’re not in the mood for salmon, a good fatty tuna will also do well.)
6 small shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 large handful fresh coriander
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder (I use Bolsts)
1 red chilli
Zest of 1 lime
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 eggs
1 lb mashed potato
1 teaspoon salt
Cornflour to dust
Butter and olive oil to fry

Put all the fishcake ingredients except the potato in the blender, and blitz until everything is roughly chopped. (The fish is quite salty already, so be careful not to oversalt.) Remove to a mixing bowl and use your hands to combine everything until well-blended.

Shape the mixture into patties the size of your palm, and dip in cornflour. Refrigerate for half an hour, then fry for five minutes each side until golden. Serve with rice and a sweet chilli sauce, or a wedge of lime .