Just jumped off the plane back in Darwin tonight, to the stifling heat, ground shaking thunder storms, magical lightning and ‘hopefully’, some torrential rain. We are headed into a month of house-sitting, in a house surrounded, almost engulfed, by banana trees, papaya trees, numerous types of spinach, sweet potatoes, chillies and herbs. There are also three beautiful dogs and twelve very generous chickens; stay tuned for some recipes in the coming month for frittata, omelette, meringue, pastry, custard, ice-cream, etc. Also close to the house is the amazing Rapid Creek Markets, held every Saturday and full of everything you will ever need for Asian style cooking. Apart from the impending heat, and the effect it has on how fast I can get things done, I’m pretty excited for the month to come!
I made these fish cakes a while ago, photographed them and then completely forgot to post the recipe. However, here they are, and I still remember that they are super yummy, fresh and flavoursome; fun and messy to eat as well. Just the way I like it! You could replace the white sweet potato with orange sweet potato, but you would probably be better off using a starchy potato instead, as orange sweet potatoes can sometimes be very soft and hard to work with. Have some napkins on hand and enjoy!
500g white fish fillet, boneless and skinned
1 medium white sweet potato, about 500g
1 tbs shrimp paste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbs plus 1 tsp, grated fresh ginger
2 long green chillies (leave seeds in if you like it hot, or de-seed if not), roughly chopped
2 tbs fish sauce
2 shallots, white and pale green parts roughly chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf, roughly chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp palm sugar (substitute with coconut or brown)
salt and pepper
1 mango, flesh roughly chopped
1 cup whole egg mayonnaise
zest and juice of 1 lime
Cos lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, mint leaves, thai basil leaves, coriander, sliced chilli, sliced cucumber, chopped roasted peanuts, lime wedges, to serve
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Pierce the sweet potato a few times with a fork and roast, on a baking tray, for about an hour or until very soft. Remove from oven to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees celcius and line a baking tray with baking paper. Bake the fish for about 10mins, or until just cooked through. Remove and cool.
In the last few minutes of the fish cooking, roast the shrimp paste by wrapping in a small parcel of foil and baking for about 5mins, or until fragrant.
In a small food processor, process the shrimp paste, garlic, 1tbs ginger, chillies, fish sauce, shallots, kaffir lime leaf, coriander, ground coriander, sesame oil, sugar and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth a smooth paste forms.
Cut the sweet potato in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl, mash with a fork. Use your hands to break the fish into small pieces and add to the bowl with the sweet potato, along with the curry paste. Mix well to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Shape the mixture into small cakes, about 2 tbs mixture per cake. Place on a lined baking tray and chill in the fridge for about an hour or until firm.
Meanwhile, to make the mango mayo, using a small processor or stick blender, process the mango, 1 tsp ginger, lime zest and juice and some salt and pepper, until smooth. Mix with the mayo and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Heat peanut oil in a large frying pan, about 2-3cm deep, over medium high heat or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in about 30secs. Place some rice flour in a shallow bowl. Dip each fish cake into the rice flour, evenly coat and tap off any excess.
In batches, fry the fish cakes, about 5mins per side, flip carefully with a metal spatula, until dark golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining fish cakes, topping up the pan with more oil as you go. Keep cooked ones warm in a low oven while your frying the rest.
Serve fish cakes with the mango mayo, cos lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, mint leaves, thai basil leaves, coriander, sliced chilli, sliced cucumber, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.