• Snapper fish cakes with cucumber relish (The Chefs' Line Series 2)Source: The Chefs' Line Series 2

What makes a fish cake superb? The bouncy texture is non-negotiable, the red curry has to shine through and the flavours from the galangal, the chilli, the ginger all have to sing. The balance between sweet, sour, hot, and salty have to come together. The Chefs' Line






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (15 votes)


Cucumber relish

  • 125 ml (½ cup) white vinegar
  • 110 g (½ cup) white sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 25 g cleaned coriander roots, chopped 
  • 50 ml picked garlic and liquid
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup finely diced Lebanese cucumbers
  • 5 red Asian shallots, finely diced 
  • ¼ cup julienned ginger
  • 1 long fresh red chilli, julienned or cut into thin rounds
  • 3 g chopped coriander

Phetchaburi curry paste      

  • 5 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 banana leaf, approximately 30 cm square, plus extra to serve
  • 40 dried red chillies, de-seeded and soaked
  • 20 small dried red chillies, de-seeded and soaked
  • 1 g sea salt
  • 5 tbsp young galangal
  • 10 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 5 tsp kaffir lime zest
  • 5 tbsp chopped grachai (wild ginger)
  • 125 g garlic, peeled

Fish cake base

  • ½ long red long chilli, de-seeded
  • ½ scud chilli
  • 2 g sea salt
  • 500 g redfish fillets (nannygai or snapper), de-boned, skin removed
  • 240 g Phetchaburi red curry paste (see above)
  • 25 ml fish sauce
  • 2 tsp palm sugar
  • 25 g grachai (wild ginger), peeled and pounded
  • 1 tsp galangal powder
  • extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 57 g sliced snake beans
  • 10 g shredded kaffir lime leaves
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 5 g Thai basil leaves

To serve

  • 5 g grachai, peeled and thinly sliced
  • deep-fried Thai basil leaves and long red chilli
  • 1 tbsp crushed, roasted peanuts

Cook's notes

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.


This recipe serves 10 as an appetiser.

To make the cucumber relish, combine the vinegar, sugar, water, coriander root, pickled garlic and its liquid and the salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then strain. It should taste sour, sweet and a little salty, but it should not be too concentrated. Place the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl and pour over the cooled vinegar mixture and set aside. 

To make the curry paste, wrap the shrimp paste in the banana leaf, sealing the ends by weaving 2 bamboo skewers through the leaf at the edges. Grill the parcel over coals for a few minutes to develop flavour or dry roast in a frying pan for the same effect. Unwrap the parcel and place the toasted shrimp paste in a mortar. Add the remaining ingredients and pound with the pestle until fine.

To make the fish cake base, place the fresh chillies and salt in a mortar and pound with a pestle using the pestle into a paste. Process the fish in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and add the fresh chilli paste, curry paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, grachai and galangal powder. Combine well, slapping the mixture against the side of the bowl until the mixture is quite sticky. Add the beaten eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Slap the mixture again to develop the protein and the mixture is sticky again. Add the sliced snake beans and shredded lime leaves. Check the seasoning- it should taste spicy and salty.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or deep-fryer to 180˚C. Slap the fishcake mixture to develop the texture once more. Check the seasoning. Fold through the fresh Thai basil leaves. Shape the mixture into 10 roughly shaped ‘cakes’, about 20 g each. Deep-fry until golden, then drain on paper towel.

To serve, place the cakes into a piece of banana leaf. Top with a little grachai, spoon over a little cucumber relish, crumble over the deep-fried chilli and crushed roasted peanuts and serve immediately.  


This recipe is from Series 2 of The Chefs' Line airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Episodes will be available after broadcast via SBS On Demand. Join the conversation #TheChefsLine on Instagram @sbsfood, Facebook @SBSFood  and Twitter @SBS_Food. Check out sbs.com.au/thechefsline for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more!