Everyone has their own vision of what Heaven must be like. Mine is Thailand. If I could wake up in the afterlife bathed in warm sun, surrounded by smiling faces and with an eternity of fresh, vibrant Thai food I would be in Heaven.
I try as often as I can to enjoy the flavors of Thailand from my kitchen in the south of France. All it requires is a little know-how and an occasional trip to the asian market.
One of my favorite Thai dishes (there are so many!) must be spicy thai fish cakes. They are intense in flavor while being moist and delicate in texture. Topped with a tangy salsa they are an explosion of flavor that I adore. So, when I decided to limit our family to vegetarian mid-week meals, trying to create a veggie-only version of this amazing dish was a priority.
To be honest, I thought it would take me a few tries to get this right. The original dish is soooo good that these little veggie cakes had big shoes to fill! Much to my surprise, after my first attempt my husband (a complete non-vegetarian) actually said that he thought they were “just as good, if not better, than the original.” Wow! So I stopped there.
Since then, I have made them several times and if I can stress one thing it is to not over-steam your sweet potatoes. Otherwise, they will soak up too much water and make your mixture wet and mushy. Also, if you do have time allow the mixture to sit in the fridge for a couple hours before forming the cakes.
Have fun, enjoy and I hope you like them as much as we did!
Thai Veggie Cakes with Tomato-Lime Salsa
One of the keys to the success of these cakes is the contrast in texture. It is important to get a nice crunchy crust on the outside of the cake to enhance the soft inside of the cake. It is also very important not to over-steam your potatoes otherwise the cakes will me too wet and soft.
Serves: 24 cakes
- 1 lb (450g) carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 lb (450g) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 cup (160g) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (100g) shredded zuchinni (courgette)*
- 1 cup (25g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
- 1 scallion (green onion), chopped
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2½-3 Tablespoons (about 50g) good quality Thai Red Curry Paste
- 1 egg
- ½ cup (100 ml) heavy cream (crème entière)
- 1 - 1½ cups (160-200g) cooked quinoa (optional - I made my first batch without the quinoa and they were delicious. I added quinoa to my second batch and they were just as good. If you want the extra protein add quinoa but don't worry if you don't have it in the pantry.
- More Breadcrumbs or Panko for coating cakes**
- Vegetable oil for shallow frying
- Tomato-Lime Salsa
- 6 Plum Tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
- 2 Scallions (spring onion), finely chopped
- 2 limes, zest and juice
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Fish sauce*
- ½ cup (100 ml) light olive oil or 50 ml sunflower oil and 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 small chiles, seeds removed and chopped (optional, I don't use the chile because the cakes have enough spice for me but they definitely would in Thailand)
- Place the carrots and sweet potato in a steamer or a large pot with a steaming basket and steam the vegetables until soft and easily cut with a knife.
- Place chickpeas, zuchinni (courgette), cilantro, and scallion in a food processor and process until everything is chopped very finely. Tip contents into a large bowl.
- When the carrots and sweet potato are tender place them in the food processor along with the curry paste and process until just smooth. Add the cream and egg and pulse really quickly until just combined.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the bowl with the chickpeas and stir everything well to combine. Pour in the breadcrumbs and quinoa, if using, and stir to combine. Refrigerate the mixture one hour or overnight to allow flavors to blend and mixture to firm up a bit. (If you are just reading this and want to serve dinner in 20 minutes go for it - they will still be ok!)
- Form the mixture into little cakes. Fill a plate with more breadcrumbs or panko (I prefer panko) and coat both sides of each cake with crumbs.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Heat oil in a large sauté pan and shallow fry each cake until they are golden brown and crunchy on each side. Place the cakes on a baking tray and place in the oven for an additional 4 minutes.
- For the salsa combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve.
- When done top each cake with a little bit of salsa and serve the rest on the side.