These are a traditional recipe I learnt from Max Mullins at Oceanic Thai. What makes them unique is their texture - bouncy, light and fluffy – and they're not battered. It's the combination of firm white-flesh fish and a small amount of oily fish (I've used ocean trout here) that gives these fritters such an amazing mouthfeel. The trick is to bash the mixture together so that the proteins break down, then a double fry in oil to achieve a crunch and get a nice colour but not overcook them.
These crunchy fish nuggets are fragrant with lemongrass and kaffir lime, with punch from homemade red curry paste.
- 500 g snapper (see Note), roughly chopped
- 100 g ocean trout, roughly chopped
- 5 snake beans, diced
- 100 g red curry paste (see below)
- 1 egg
- 50 ml fish sauce
- 5 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
- ½ tsp rice flour
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Red curry paste
- ½ cup roughly chopped red onion
- ¼ cup roughly chopped garlic
- 1 cup dried red chili
- ½ cup roughly chopped lemongrass
Sweet chilli sauce
- 8 long red chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 125 ml (½ cup) water
- 125 ml (½ cup) rice vinegar
- 10 g pink sea salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time: 30 minutes
For the red curry paste, preheat the oven to 150ºC. Spread the onion and garlic on a baking tray (no oil necessary) and roast for 30 minutes.
Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 minutes to soften, then drain.
Place the chillies, onion, garlic and lemongrass in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside. (Paste can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
For the sweet chilli sauce, place the chillies and water in a blend and process to paste. Transfer to a saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until reduced by one-third.
Remove from the heat and cool.
For the fish cakes, place the snapper in a food processor and blend until it starts to break down and stick to the side of the bowl. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place the ocean trout in the food processor and pulse a few times until roughly blended – you don’t want it to break down and release its oils.
Add to the bowl with the snapper, along with the remaining fish cake ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands. Pick up the entire mixture with our hands and “bash” it onto a bench or into the bowl with a good amount of force for 5 minutes or until the mixture is firm to touch and holds together well.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and line a large tray with paper towel. Using two large spoons, shape the mixture into ovals and place in the hot oil. Deep-fry for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and rest for a minute, then deep-fry for another 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Serve immediately with the chilli sauce.
• You can use other firm white-flesh fish, such as trumpeter or barramundi but not rockling as it’s too watery.
• I like to use Mega Chef brand of fish sauce.
• Snake beans are available from Asian grocers and select supermarkets. Green beans will do at a pinch.
Jarrod Hudson is the head chef at Easy Tiger. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.