This recipe makes a great canapé or light appetizer.
Serves 4 to 6 (See photo on page 60)
4 quarts canola oil
1 garlic clove
1 red Thai bird’s eye chili
Pinch of coarse sea salt
1 lb hand-minced prawn meat
½ cup diced long beans
2 tbsp julienned makrut lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp granulated sugar
Sweet Chili Sauce
½ cup roughly chopped coriander
roots or stems
½ cup whole garlic cloves
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup deseeded and chopped chili peppers
4 cups white vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
For Cakes: In a deep fryer or large heavy pot over medium-high heat, preheat the canola oil to 350°F. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, chili and salt into a fine paste. Transfer the paste to a medium-sized bowl together with the rest of the prawn cake ingredients.
Using your hands, combine the ingredients thoroughly, then slap the mixture against the bowl until firm and sticky. Form the mixture into 16 to 20 balls, 1 to 1½ inches in diameter, or into 10 to 12 patties up to 2 inches wide and no more than 1 inch thick.
Test-fry one prawn cake in the fryer or pot, cooking it for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. The texture should be bouncy and lightly toothy. Depending on the size of your pot, fry them in one or two batches, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil.
For Sweet Chili Sauce: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the coriander roots, garlic and salt into a coarse paste. Grind the chilies in a meat grinder, or pulse them in a food processor until the chili pepper bits are evenly sized to about 1/8 inch. Combine with the paste.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, stir together the chili paste, vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a simmer. When the sauce reaches a temperature of 220°F, continue simmering for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve with cakes and store any remaining sauce in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 2 months.