Entrée to Asia: A Culinary Adventure

by Thomas Robson

Published by Raincoast Books

144 pages, 1999

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Thai Corn Cakes
from Entrée to Asia by Thomas Robson

In the mid-afternoon, and only in the mid-afternoon, there is a place on the edge of Chinatown, near the Chao Phraya River, where you can buy freshly cooked corn cakes studded with small shrimp and fragrant with coriander root. Like English fish and chips, they are served wrapped in newspaper and accompanied by a sweet vinegary sauce. With a fresh icy glass of lime juice, they are the perfect siesta snack enjoyed under a shady tree. I like them best with a few spoonfuls of coarsely chopped red chilies added to the batter. But be warned: you'll need several glasses of lime juice if you make them that way!

Spice Paste

1 tsp/5mL peppercorns
2 to 3 coriander roots
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp/15mL palm sugar
2 tsp/10 mL salt


2 to 3 tbsp/30 to 45 mL fish sauce

Main ingredients

3 cups/750mL corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1lb/500 g small shrimp, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup/60 mL cornstarch
1/2 cup/125 mL flour
4 large eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil for shallow frying


Sprigs of fresh coriander and cucumber relish (see recipe, page 105)


1. Using a mortar and pestle or a small blender or food processor, pound or grind the spice paste ingredients in the order given until they form a coarse paste. Have all the remaining ingredients prepared and at hand. Preheat oven to 150 degrees F/65 degrees C.

2. Combine the spice paste with the remaining ingredients and seasoning, in the order given (except the oil), to make a thick batter.

3. In a large, deep frying pan, heat enough oil for shallow frying (abut 1 in./2.5 cm deep). When the oil is hot, begin frying the batter by the tablespoonful, cooking no more than 3 to 5 corn cakes at a time. Turn the corn cakes over as they brown on each side. When the cakes are golden brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel. Keep them warm in the oven.

4. Serve the corn cakes warm, garnished with fresh coriander and accompanied by cucumber relish.