Australians have a love affair with Thai food. Thai restaurants are everywhere and range from tiny eateries to fine-dining establishments. I even go as far as saying that some of the food rivals the offerings of Thailand’s best kitchens.
Thai food in Australia, like Indian food in England, has been unconditionally embraced. Twenty years ago, in Australia, the most common Asian appetizer would have been the spring roll. While I have no scientific data to prove it, my strong hunch is that Australians eat twice as many tod mun pla (Thai fish cakes) than spring rolls.
In spite of my strong Thai heritage I had never, until recently, attempted to make this popular entrée (appetizers in North America). It seemed like a hassle. I didn’t own a food processor and I didn’t feel like making fish paste with my tiny mortar and pestle. I recently bought a food processor and my excuse vanished. And I’m very glad it did.
You can use pretty much any fish. I used basa, a fresh water fish with firm, white flesh. The fish is first blended into a sticky paste with an egg, to bind the mixture, red curry paste, cornstarch or tapioca flour and fish sauce. The paste is then mixed with fragrant kaffir lime leaves and sweet snake beans. It's best to dampen your hands with a little water before rolling the fish cake balls as the mixture is really sticky.
A tip on the kaffir leaves -- I usually buy them with a specific recipe in mind and I only use several at a time. To keep them fresh, simply place them in a small ziplock plastic bag and keep them in the freezer until you need to use them. They don't need to be defrosted either. Just pop them straight into whatever dish you're cooking.