We’ve been bbq-ing a lot the past few days, and doing it the easy way — grilled Italian sausages with crusty ciabatta buns stuffed with tomatoes, sweet onions and avocado slices. It’s the sort of no-think cooking break that everyone needs sometimes. Last night I did a bit of Vietnamese for a change, and made some Vietnamese Fish Cakes. If you’re tired of a bbq & meat repertoire, these fish cakes are a healthy alternative that pack a lot of fresh flavor. Brown these a bit in a non-stick skillet and serve with jasmine rice and lots of torn Thai basil and caramelized onions. Don’t forget a side of Nuoc Cham for dipping.
This was nice, because we finally got over our colds from hell (sucks to be sick in the summer — understatement of the century) and we’ve been trying to make up for lost time and get out to the mountains this weekend. Not having much luck finding a place to stay. All of Kananaskis is closed because the roads and bridges are still out after the flood, so everyone, locals, tourists, through-traffic are squeezed into the national park instead. Then mention the word “dog” to a hotel, and you might as well say you’re arriving with Guns & Roses. So we’re camping in Lake Louise, but have to wait until August for an available night. I’m excited for it anyway — we haven’t camped in ages…anyway, fish cakes:
- 3 tbs low-smokepoint oil, such as grapeseed
- 400g red snapper fillets
- ½ cup each lightly packed chopped cilantro and scallions (white and green parts)
- few leaves of mint and Thai basil, chopped
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 3 tbs white flour for dusting
- garnish: ½ sweet onion, fried in a bit of oil until golden and caramelized
- Pat the fillets dry and ensure there are no remaining bones. Using a chef’s knife, finely chop the fillets. You can use a food processor for this, but don’t overprocess! I find that chopping fish gives the best consistency.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chopped fillets, cilantro, scallions, mint, basil, fish sauce, egg and breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands until evenly distributed.
- Wash off your hands and get a small bowl of water. Wet your palms and start to form the cakes, rewetting your hands after each one to keep from sticking. Aim for 1.5 inches in diameter and ¾ inch height. Dust each with flour on both sides.
- Heat the oil in a medium non-stick skillet and fry the cakes for 3 minutes on each side, take care not to overcook, or it they will be dry.
- Serve at once.