Tod man pla
Tod man pla
Kitchen Thai cuisine
Dish type Snack
For who Small appetites
What is tod man pla?
Tod man pla (pronounced ‘tohd mun plaa’) are Thai fish cakes. A batter of finely ground fish, red curry paste, lime leaves and lemongrass is formed into patties and then fried. In Thailand, these fish cakes are usually eaten as a snack, along with a fresh cucumber dip.
Traditionally, tod man pla is made from freshwater cuttlefish, the pla grai. This fish has firm meat, which benefits the elasticity of the final fish cakes. The fish is only found in Asia, which is why the dish is usually made with alternatives like trout, perch or catfish in the West.
In the past, these delicious fish cakes were sold by street vendors from baskets dangling on sticks of long bamboo perched on their shoulders, with the mouth-watering morsels wrapped in banana leaves.
Did you know...
The Thai also make delicious savoury cakes (tod man) from other ingredients, including shrimp, pork and chicken. There’s even a vegan variant available that’s made with corn and wheat flour.
How to make tod man pla
Begin by stirring fresh fish paste and red curry paste together until a thick and sticky consistency is achieved. Sometimes, egg is stirred into the mix. Very small pieces of lemongrass and wafer-thin strips of lime leaves are then added in equal measure, with fish sauce and sugar added for more flavour. Cake morsels the size of a tablespoon can then be formed and fried in hot oil.
The fish cakes are usually served alongside a dip that’s made with cubes of crispy cucumber, sweet chilli sauce, chopped peanuts, coriander and shallots.
In Vietnam, fish balls are regularly served in soup dishes like banh canh or bun bo hue.
Serve with a bowl of fragrant pandan rice (khao) to transform these fish cakes from a snack into a proper meal.