Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Man Pla)

Towards Christmas and New Year, there are always many gatherings at friends’ place and bringing finger food will be the most appropriate. I have learnt a great one, that’s Thai fish cakes (Tod Man Pla), they are easy to make and very appetizing! You can make with any white fish, I chose to use pangasius fish fillets which are easy to get here for me and I always have some stand by in the freezer. I adapted the recipe from Thaifoodrecipesite .


  • 500g white fish fillet (e.g. pangasius, cod), minced
  • 10 shrimps, shells removed, deveined and minced (optional, see notes)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp corn flour
  • 4 tsp homemade red curry paste (see below) or 3 tsp ready-made red curry paste
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup spring onion, finely chopped
  • 3 snake beans, very thinly sliced
  • Cooking oil for shallow frying
  • Sweet chili sauce, to serve

The following curry paste is adapted from New Curries from The Australian Women’s Weekly and The Big Book of Thai Curries by Vatcharin Bhumichitr

Homemade Red Curry Paste (Makes 1 Cup):

  • 20 dried red chilies (I used bird’s eye chili)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika (if you can get hold of hot paprika, that’s even better)
  • 10g ginger, finely chopped
  • 10g galangal, chopped into small pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped briefly
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped briefly
  • 2 shallots, chopped briefly
  • 4 sticks of fresh lemongrass, just the inside part, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander root and stems, chopped
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste

Directions for Red curry paste:

  1. Hydrate the dried chilies in a bowl of boiling water for about 15 mins, drain to dry.
  2. In the meantime, dry fry the coriander, cumin and paprika in a small frying pan, stir until fragant.
  3. Place all ingredients into a small container or the one that comes with the handheld blender. Blend all ingredients until a paste is formed.
  4. The red curry paste can be used for 2-3 times, any unused paste can be kept in the freezer.

Directions for fish cakes:

  1. Cut the fish fillet into pieces, using a chopping knife and chop into a mince, alternatively you can use a food processor but doing it by hand is better I personally find and it does not take that long really, only a few minutes, you will get a nice mince.
  2. Repeat the same for the shrimps.
  3. Place the minced fish and shrimps into a large bowl. Add in the egg, 1 tbsp cornflour, salt, sugar, red curry paste, coriander, spring onion and snake beans to the bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon and try to move in only one direction, i.e. either only turn clockwise or only anti-clockwise.
  4. When mixed well, now using your clean hand, scoop the fish paste onto your palm, hold it in the air about your eye level and then throw it back like baseball to the mixing bowl. Repeat for at least 10 times (the longer the better), this will make the fish paste sticks better together and also gives a bouncy texture to the fish cakes. Some fish paste may fall outside the bowl and make a little mess in your kitchen but do not worry, just clean it afterwards. This movement or effort will pay back when you taste your delicious fish cakes. You can see the paste looks different to when it was just mixed with the wooden spoon.
  5. Once you get a nice fish paste, transfer this to another clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge for at least an hour before frying them.
  6. When ready to fry, heat some cooking oil in a large flat frying pan, you can be a little more generous in adding oil as we are doing shallow frying.
  7. When the oil is hot enough, turn to medium high heat, scoop some fish paste and roll with wet hands to make a ball, gently place the fish ball into the oil and press with your fingers to make it into flat-round shaped patty.
  8. Repeat step 7, until your pan is filled with fish patties. Fry on both sides until they turn golden brown.
  9. Put some kitchen paper on a large plate and placed the cooked fish cakes on them to absorb excess oil before serving.
  10. You may need to cook them in 2-3 batches.
  11. Serve while warm or at room temperature with sweet chili sauce.



  1. The reason why I add some minced shrimps is because I find the shrimps have a stickiness texture which makes the fish paste bind even better and gives an even more bouncy texture when cooked.


This is how my fish paste looked like