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Classic Thai Fish Cakes

User Rating 5 Star Rating (8 Reviews)


Thai fish cakes
Iain Bagwell/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Thai Fish Cakes are a common street food in Thailand, and are very flavorful compared to most Western fish cake recipes. They aren't battered, which I find allows for more of the fresh taste of the fish, spices, and herbs to come through. These cakes are best eaten fresh out of the oil while they're still hot and juicy. Served them with or without rice, and accompany with Thai sweet chili sauce, chopped cucumber, fresh coriander, and a squeeze of lime juice. Simply delicious!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: SERVES 4-6 OR 2-3 as Main Entree


  • 1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets (I like cod, but any will work)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste OR 1 extra Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chili, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
  • oil for high temp. frying
  • To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce, lime wedges, handful fresh coriander


For Western-style fish cakes (the larger, breaded variety), see my delicious: Thai-style Fish Cakes Recipe (with Sweet Chili & Basil Mayo).

  1. Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped.
  2. In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (kaffir lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal/ginger, garlic, and chili). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.
  4. Picking up a small amount in your hand (about the size of a golf ball) pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick. Tips: If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent paste from sticking.
  5. Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Cut the cucumber length-wise, then dice up into small cubes and set aside. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).
  6. Heat oil. When hot enough (a breakcrumb should sizzle and cook immediately when dropped in), gently place cakes in oil. Allow to fry 30 seconds to 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating. Excellent like this, or served with rice for a main course dish. ENJOY!

Make Ahead Tip: You can make the fish paste up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and set in the refrigerator, then form into cakes and fry.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
An instant hit!!, Member muschamp

What a great recipe. I made it with Hake (part frozen) and it was an instant hit - with a 9 and 11 year old. I used 400g of fish and made 9 small cakes, I thought there would be some left for lunch the following day, not a hope. Now a family favourite and entered into our family cook book!! A must try for others.

6 out of 6 people found this helpful.

See all 8 reviews

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