Friday, March 19, 2010

Pepes Tahu

It's "no meat" Friday during Lent season and I really don't want to eat salad today :) So I made an Indonesian vegetarian dish called Pepes Tahu (Wrapped Tofu). It's mashed tofu mixed with spices, wrapped in banana leaves. It's steamed, then grilled. This dish is flavorful, filling, and packed with protein so it's almost like eating meat...without the extra fat and cholesterol!

Makes about 6


2 pkg. soft tofu
20 fresh Thai basil leaves
5 shallots
2 garlic
2 red chili
6 Thai chili
2 t. salt
2 t. sugar
12 dried or fresh bay leaves
Banana leaves

Cooking instruction:
1. Drain tofu and place in a large bowl. Add basil leaves.

2. In a small food chopper, minced shallots, garlic, red chili, thai chili, salt, and sugar. Then add to tofu bowl and mash together.

3. Place 1 bay leaf on top of a banana leaf then take a few tablespoons of tofu mixture and spread on top. Top with another bay leaf then fold and seal each side with a toothpick or staple. Continue until all the mixture is used up.

4. Steam the wrapped tofu for about 20 minutes then grill for a few minutes on each side until dry. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tod Man Plaa (Thai Fried Fish Cake)

I eat out at a Thai restaurant pretty often and 99% of the time, I would order the fried fish cake as the appetizer. With the leftover fish paste I had from making otak-otak, I decided to try making this dish. I've been a fan of, an online grocery store specializing in Thai spices, produce, and cookware for a few years now. Even though I've never had the need to purchase the spices since I live in Southern California and don't really have any problems getting them, I love browsing the extensive amount of Thai recipes available on their website. They're easy to follow and most have step-by-step pictures, and even videos of actual Thai street vendors cooking the dish. I've tried a couple of recipes in the past and they came out very good. This was no different...they came out so good and taste just like at the restaurant.

Recipe Source:
Import Food (I did add the tapioca starch and flour to the recipe since I used fish paste and the mixture was too soft)

Makes about 20 fish cakes


1 lb. fresh white fish like cod or halibut (or fish paste)
1 egg

3/4 C. finely sliced Chinese longbean, or stringbeans

6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

1 t. sugar

1 t. salt

1.5 T. red curry paste

2 T. tapioca starch

1 T. flour

3 C. vegetable oil for frying

Cooking instruction:

1. Cut the fish into small pieces, then grind it up in a food processor until it's a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients (except the oil). For spicier taste, ad
d a bit more red curry paste.

2. Using your hands, knead the mixture until sticky enough to form it into a disc about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan at med/high heat.

3. Add fish cakes and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with a dish of cucumber relish which is to be spooned
over the fish cakes at the table.

Cucumber Relish
1/2 C. white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

1 cucumber, coarsely chopped

3 shallots, finely sliced

1-2 fresh Thai chili, sliced

1 T. crushed roasted peanuts

Cooking instruction:

1. Cook vinegar and sugar in small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool.

2. In a small serving bowl put cucumbers, shallots and Thai chile. Pour vinegar mixture over that, then top with roasted peanuts.

Otak-Otak (Grilled Fish Cake)

I love otak-otak! It's one of my favorite snacks since childhood. It is very popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore although each region has a slight variation on how to cook them. Indonesian otak-otak consist of fish paste seasoned with spices, then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled on charcoal fire. It's served with peanut dipping sauce. Making them does take some prep time but it's so worth it!

Makes about 40


2 lbs. fish paste
2 egg whites
1 C. coconut milk
1/2 C. tapioca starch
1 t. salt
2 t. sugar
1 t. ground white pepper
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
3 Thai chili (optional)
5 chives (sliced)
Banana leaves (cut into approx. 4" x 8" strips)

Cooking instruction:
1. In a large bowl, mix fish paste, egg whites, and coconut milk.

2. In a small food processor, mince together shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, pepper, and Thai chili. Stir the spices into the fish mixture. Mix in the chives.

3. Take a tablespoon of mixture, spread it on the inner edge of a sheet of banana leaf and then roll. Staple each end to seal.

4. There are 3 options to grill otak-otak. The traditional way is to grill them on a charcoal grill. If you have a gas burner, you can place a wire rack on top of it. Use low setting and place several otak-otak on middle of the rack. Turn a few times to make sure the leaves don't catch on fire. The third option is to place them in the oven at 300 F for about 10 minutes, then turn and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 C. ground peanuts
1/4 C. ground candlenuts
2 red chili
5 Thai chili
1/2 C. warm water
1 T. white vinegar
1 T. sugar
Salt, to taste

Cooking instruction:
1. Combine all ingredients.
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