Recipe: Nick Naine’s Fairtrade Thai Fish Cakes

Recipe: Nick Naine’s Fairtrade Thai Fish Cakes

Using Fairtrade ingredients in your dinner is a simple way of making a real difference to the lives of the people around the world who grow our food in some of the poorest countries.

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Thai Fish Cakes

This recipe was donated by chef, Nick Nairn in support of RSPCA Assured Celebrity Recipe Collection.

Nick says, “Some of my favourite flavours come from Thailand. That mix of lime, chilli, lemongrass, coriander and fish sauce sets my tastebuds tingling. These little fish cakes, which shouldn’t be any bigger than 2-bites’ worth each, are very easy to make and are packed full of fresh salmon, herbs and come with just a gentle chilli kick.”

Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour chilling time

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 12, serves 4 as a starter


For the fish cakes:

  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves discarded and core finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 Fairtrade lime, finely grated
  • 25g fresh coriander, stalks and all
  • 300g fresh Freedom Food salmon fillet, skinned
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • A little plain flour for coating
  • Vegetable oil for frying (not olive)

For the dipping sauce….

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish Sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 tbsp fresh Fairtrade lime juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp Fairtrade soft brown sugar (or palm sugar if you can get it)
  • ½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • A few drops of chilli oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, chopped
  • 1 tbsp spring onion, chopped


First make the salmon cakes. Chop the chilli and lemongrass up very small and place in the mixer and blitz. Then add the lime and coriander and blitz thoroughly again. Make sure you add the ingredients in the right order to get the right texture.

Tear the salmon into large-ish strips, ensuring there are no bones. Add the salmon to the mixer with the Thai fish sauce and then very gently pulse. Do not over mix otherwise you will end up with salmon mousse. You want a good meaty texture.

Scrape out into a bowl, cover and chill for an hour. This will keep for up to 6 hours, but will need a stir before shaping into cakes.

For the dipping sauce, mix all the ingredients together and set aside. You can finely chop the ingredients ahead of time, but only add the liquids a maximum of 10 minutes before needed or the fish sauce and lime juice will wilt the fresh herbs. You can adjust the amount of lime and sugar in the dipping sauce to your taste. Ideally, you’re looking for a hot, sweet and sour balance.

When ready, divide the salmon mixture into 12, then roll into balls. Wetting your hands will make this easier. Press each ball flat to form a round cake, but don’t make them too thin or they will be rubbery.

Dip each cake in flour, shaking off the excess. Pour about 5mm of vegetable oil into a frying pan and heat until a nut of salmon mixture sizzles as soon as it is placed in the pan.

Fry the cakes in batches for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked and nicely brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the dipping sauce.

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