Thot Man Pla (Thai Fish Cakes)

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April 5, 2007
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This was one dish I couldn’t get enough during my short break in Phuket. I only managed to eat at the Thai Thai restaurant twice.  I love the fish cakes they used to serve locally at Barn Thai Jazzarant a long time ago.

I believe my favourite Thai restaurant has closed its doors for a while already. Well, I could be wrong, since I don’t get the privilege to restaurant hop often …. maybe Boo_licious can advise me on that, eh????

Firstly, I will be making some non-spicy fish cakes followed closely with some spicy Thai ones. This way both young and old get to enjoy fish cakes of their choice. Keep in mind, this is not a very simple recipe. It takes a little more time to prepare then my usual stuffs I churn out daily but then again, it is worth every effort. That is why I make it in bulk, fish paste has many uses and can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days.


2 very fresh Kau yue (approx. an arms length)
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
5 Tbsp filtered water
1 tsp sea salt
grapeseed oil (for frying)

2 generous drizzle of Thai fish sauce
8 kaffir lime leaves (thinly sliced)
3 french beans (finely sliced)
3 fresh red Thai chilies (seeded and chopped finely)
1 onion (peeled, finely sliced)
1 sprig curry leaves (thinly sliced)
2 Tbsp green curry paste
a pinch of brown sugar

Dipping sauce

50 ml white wine vinegar
100 gm castor sugar
1/2 a small carrot (diced into very small dices)
2 inch piece of cucumber (diced into very small dices)
2 cloves garlic (same as above)
2 shallots (same as above)
2 small fresh Thai red chilies -seeded (same as above)

Mix them all together and serve in a bowl together with the fish cakes.


  1. Fillet the fish and scrap out all the flesh using a spoon. Leaving fish skin and bones aside. While scraping, I make sure all the flesh is completely scraped out and small bones thrown away. Put all the fish flesh into the Kitchen Aid bowl and beat using a dough hook.
  2. Dilute tapioca flour and sea salt in the filtered water and add into the fish dough a little at a time. Pause and scrap the fish dough off the sides of the Kitchen Aid bowl and continue to beat. Repeat this process a few times. To check if the dough is ready, it has to have a springy texture and does not stick to the side of the Kitchen Aid bowl while beating. Handle with wet hands to avoid dough from sticking. To test if not sure, bring a small saucepan of water to boil and drop in a small teaspoon of fish dough. After 2 minutes, take the droplet of fish dough out and eat to see if it is springy. If it is, fish dough is then ready. Set aside a portion for non-spicy fish cakes and to the remaining dough add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. For the non-spicy fish cake, take fish dough and make into little patties.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan with oil and fry the little patties until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper towels and keep warm for serving.
  5. As for the ‘Thot Man Pla’, with wet hands, roll them into bigger patties with all the rest of the ingredients inside and fry till golden brown as well. Drain on kitchen paper towels and serve with hot steaming rice.

* The fish bones set aside can be used as stock whereas the fish skin rubbed with salt can be deep fried or toasted into a snack and serve with a chilled Singha beer.

Thot Man Pla is served with a dipping sauce which is sweet, spicy and a little sourish. I did not manage to make it but I have a quite a similar recipe for the dipping sauce below.

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