Tod Mun Pla is a Thai Fried Fish Cake that's a popular street vendor and appetizer food in Thailand.
I really wanted to get this recipe for Thai Fish Cake perfect, because while it's not a complicated recipe, it can really go wrong if not prepared properly.
In Thailand you'll find Tod Mun Pla in restaurants and from street vendors, but most of them will use a pre-made fish paste. After testing this recipe with fresh fish, I can honestly say it taste so much better! Be sure to read my tips below on how to successfully make this recipe.
What Kind of Fish to Use
I'm using Fresh Tilapia Filets and this resulted in the best outcome. I tested it with frozen tilapia that I thawed, but the moisture made the paste too loose.
If you only have access to frozen tilapia fillets, make sure they are completely thawed and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Then pat each filet dry with a paper towel. Don't skip this step!
You'll also want to pat dry fresh tilapia filets too. I also sprinkled a little salt on the fish for some flavor.
Brands of Red Curry Paste
The brand of red curry paste that you use is very important since this is where all the flavor is coming from. The one I share in this recipe is the Mae Ploy brand, but I have also used the Maseri Brand.
I get these at my local Asian market or on Amazon. Both of these brands have a higher spice level compared to the Thai Kitchen Brand. If you only have access to the Thai Kitchen brand, then use 3 tablespoon instead of 2.
How to Make the Fish Paste in a Food Processor
Authentic Tod Mun Pla delivers a chewy and firm texture, unlike a flakey fish cake that has breading. To achieve this texture, a food processor is the easiest way to make the fish paste.
Place the tilapia filets, a pinch of salt, red curry paste, and 1 egg into a food processor. You can also add a teaspoon of fish sauce for more fish flavor.
Turn the food processor on and mix for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. The paste should be the consistency of sticky cookie dough. Mine was too firm, so I added 1 more egg and continue mixing for another 2 minutes.
If the paste is too loose, remove it from the food processor and place in a mesh strainer and attempt to squeeze any extra liquid. Then place it back in the food processor and mix until it firms up.
Once the paste is firm, remove from the food processor into a bowl. Add the sliced green beans and sliced lime leaves, mix with a spatula or spoon until combined.
How to Fry the the Fish Cake
Use can use a deep fryer or non stick skillet to fry the fish cake. For a skillet just add enough oil to cover half an inch of the skillet. Heat the oil to 300-350°F.
Have a bowl of water to wet your hands through the frying process. The fish paste is very sticky, so wetting your hands first will make it easier to make the patties.
Once hands are wet, grab about a tablespoon of fish paste and flatten it into a patty. Carefully place the patty into the hot oil. Fry and flip to the other side once browned.
This is your test patty, once cooked taste and see if any additional seasoning is needed. You can add more salt, fish sauce, curry paste, or sugar if needed.
Then continue until all the fish paste is fried. Allow fish cakes to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
How to Make the Dipping Sauce
The base of the dipping sauce for Tod Mun Pla is sweet chili sauce. I prefer to use a bottled one because it's easier. Then add some diced cucumber, sliced shallots or red onion, a little vinegar, and top with some crushed peanuts.
Watch The YouTube Video
Cooked Tod Mun can be kept in the refrigerator 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Or they can be frozen once cooked and cooled. Freeze in an airtight bag up to 3 months.
Tod Mun Pla- Thai Fish Cake Recipe
- Food Processor
- Non Stick Skillet
- Vegetable Oil For Frying
- 1 pound Tilapia Filets (Fresh tilapia is best)
- 2 tablespoon Red Curry Paste See notes below about different brands.
- 1-2 Eggs Start with 1 egg.
- ½ cup Green Beans Petite or Chinese Long Bean, Diced Small.
- 6 Fresh Makrut Lime Leavs Cut into thin slices.
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Fish Sauce (Optional) For more fish flavor.
- 1 Persian or Cocktail Cucumber
- 1 tablespoon Shallot or Red Onion, diced fine
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ½ cup Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Crushed Peanuts
- For fresh tilapia, pat each filet with a paper towel. I recommend using fresh over frozen if you can. Keep tilapia cold until ready to use. If using frozen tilapia fillets, make sure they are completely thawed and remove any moisture. You can squeeze the fish with your hands then use a paper towel to dry each fillet. If the fish has any liquid it will make the paste too loose.
- Rinse green beans and remove stems. Slice in to thin pieces and set aside.
- Rinse fresh makrut lime leaves, remove middle stem, and slice into fine strips.
- Place tilapia filets, pinch of salt, red curry paste, and 1 egg into a food processor. You can aslo add fish sauce if you like. Mix until a paste forms. If the consistency is too dry, add another egg. Scrape down the sides and continue processing for about 2 minutes.
- Remove paste from food processor into a bowl. The consistency should be like sticky cookie dough. Add sliced green beans and lime leaves. Stir to combine well.
- Use a non stick skillet and add enough vegetable oil to cover at least half an inch of the bottom. Heat until oil is 300-350 degrees F.
- Have a bowl of water to wet your hands before grabbing the fish paste, it will be sticky. Once hands are wet, grab about a tablespoon of fish paste and flatten it into a patty. Carefully place the patty into the hot oil. Fry and flip to the other side once browned. This is your test patty, once cooked taste and see if any additional seasoning is needed.
- Once seasoning is adjusted, continue frying all the fish cakes. Allow fish cakes to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
- Mix diced cucumber, shallots, vinegar, and sweet chili sauce together in a small bowl. Top with crushed peanuts and serve with cooked fish cakes.