Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Dipping Sauce

These yummy little fish cakes are on the menu of every Thai restaurant we’ve ever visited, and they’re surprisingly easy to make at home. They get their wonderful flavor from red curry paste, which can be found in most supermarkets, and kaffir lime leaves. If kaffir lime leaves aren’t available, fresh lime zest can be used in their place, but try for kaffir whenever possible ~ the aromatic flavor just can’t be duplicated. See our recipe notes for more info.

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Yield: 24 pieces
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These delicious fish cakes are a favorite on Thai restaurant menus, but surprisingly easy to make at home.


  • 3/4 lb mild white fish fillets (tilapia, catfish, snapper, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 to 5 kaffir lime leaves, stemmed and chopped (see notes for substitutions)
  • Vegetable oil for shallow frying

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup rice or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt


  1. Place the fish fillets in the freezer to chill while you make the dipping sauce.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and sugar and heat to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature add the cucumber, shallot, garlic and ginger. Season to taste with salt, transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Remove the fish fillets from the freezer and cut them into chunks. Place them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the curry paste, egg, cornstarch, fish sauce, sugar, green beans, cilantro, basil and kaffir lime leaves. Process until the mixture becomes a thick paste. It will be quite sticky.
  4. Lay a sheet of wax paper on the counter and using wet hands, form the mixture into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Spray the back of a spatula with nonstick cooking spray and use it to gently flatten each ball to a thickness of about 3/8-inch.
  5. Heat 1/4-inch of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Carefully add 1/2 of the fish cakes to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve with the Cucumber Dipping Sauce and, if desired, some Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.


About Kaffir lime leaves:

If you can't get kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute about 1-1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime zest for the 5 leaves.

If you enjoy Thai food, consider ordering kaffir lime leaves (they freeze very well) or kaffir lime powder through the mail. We buy both from and have always been pleased with their quality and service.