If it is, well, we're doomed. We've been eating the same root vegetable and cilantro slaw with Thai fish cakes for dinner for six days now. (Okay, okay. Sometimes we have it for lunch too.) Six days!
In our defense, this meal is good. And the every day part isn't entirely unwarranted. When you boil three pounds of frozen flounder to make fish stock, you can't just throw all that white meat away. It may have lost a little flavor, but that's why fish cakes were invented. With red curry paste, cilantro, sugar, and a pinch of salt, you can make anything come to life. As for the slaw, well; it isn't quite farmers' market season yet. Those root vegetables are still kicking around, and slicing them up very thinly, sprinkling them with cilantro, and drizzling them with a light, lemon-mayo dressing makes them seem much, much more acceptable this time of year. In fact, between the curry-spiced fish cakes and the cilantro-spiked slaw, I've almost been able to imagine myself down to the fish taco street stand we visited on a trip to Sayulita. I'm not quite there, but then again, we're only halfway through the fish. There's time.
If you look very closely at the picture above, you will see the edge of a little white bowl with a peanut dipping sauce peeking out. This mixture of vinegar, sugar, and crushed nuts is essential. It makes the fish cakes just the slightest bit sweet, and it adds crunch. And, well, if you're going to eat something every day for a week, you ought to go all out.
THAI FISH CAKES
This recipe is a take-off on the traditional Thai fish cakes, Thod Mun Pla. A friend gave us a recipe for those, but since we lacked both string beans and kaffir lime leaves (the two key ingredients) we decided to go with cilantro instead. This turned out to be a very happy decision, as it led us to a recipe we like better yet.
1 pound boiled white fish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped thin
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
oil/fat for frying
Knead fish, cilantro, curry paste, egg, sugar, and salt by hand in a mixing bowl. Fill a deep, wide pan about an inch full with cooking oil or fat drippings. When the oil is hot, pat the fish mixture into cakes and drop as many will fit into the pan. Cook about 2 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Serve warm over some sort of crunchy slaw, with peanut dipping sauce.
PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanuts, crushed
In a saucepan, heat up vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Add peanuts; mix well and serve.