party food

Thai fish cakes

Unfortunately, opportunities for cooking these delicious fish cakes do not happen often, good reef fish being the price it is. When Dad and I went up to the Bunkers with Nikki and Bruce Phillips on the old ‘Arbitrage’, I went prepared (even though Bruce drew the line at my wok.) My chance came one day when we caught nothing but Red Hussars, a good eating fish with very little keeping ability. Red Hussars do not freeze well, so it is a matter of eat now, or use for bait. When I announced that I was making Red Hussar Thai fish cakes for lunch, I was banished from the galley and told to prepare them on the bait board. So I did. Nobody objected to eating them, though.

250g white fish fillets
½ cup snake or green beans, roughly sliced
1 coriander plant, leaves, stems and roots, finely chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying

Remove any skin and bones from the fish and cut into pieces. Place in a bowl of a food processor with all of the remaining ingredients, except the oil for frying. Process for 30 seconds or until just mixed. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour or until cold.

With damp hands, shape the mixture into patties, approximately 5cm in diameter. Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan and fry the fish cakes, a few at a time, until crisp and golden brown, turning once. Drain on absorbent paper and keep hot in a very slow oven (120C) while cooking the remainder. Serve with Cucumber Salad.


1 medium cucumber
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 –3 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Chopped coriander to garnish

Quarter the cucumber lengthways and using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds from each quarter. Slice finely with skin on. Place sliced cucumber in a bowl with the shallots and chillies. Mix together the sugar and hot water add the vinegar and fish sauce and pour over the cucumber mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Haloumi and zucchini fritters

I have made these for several art show openings and they have become a staple. They are always enormously popular, along with Turkish meatballs, crab and pork balls, and, of course, baked ricotta cake. (All, you will notice, can be made well in advance.) I feel that the zucchini fritters do need the aoili, though.

300g (about 6 – 8) zucchini
1 onion, grated
250g haloumi cheese, grated
75g (½ cup) plain flour
2 teaspoons zested lemon rind
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Light olive oil, to fry
Aioli, to serve (see Sauces)

Coarsely grate the zucchinis, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place in a bowl and add the onion, haloumi cheese, flour, lemon zest, eggs and dill. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine. Shape the zucchini mixture into about 25 bite size patties. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes until firm.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and fry, in batches, for 1 – 2 minutes each side until golden. Drain on a paper towel.

Just before serving, place the fritters on a baking tray and warm in a pre-heated moderate oven.

Serve with aioli to dip.

Makes about 25.