Any white fish will do for these spicy fish cakes but, as you are using very strong flavouring ingredients, take this opportunity to use something cheap and cheerful like coley.
To serve the fish cakes as a dinner-party first course, sprinkle them with a scattering of crisply fried julienne of shallots or leeks.
Skin the fish fillets, cut them into pieces and put them in a blender or food processor.
Peel off the thick outer leaf of the lemon grass stalk, top and tail it and cut across into the thinnest rings you can manage. Finely chop the coriander and chillies. Add all of these to the fish, together with the fish sauce and the egg. Blitz the mixture to a smooth purée, scrape this into a bowl, cling-wrap the top and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Using a tablespoon to give the right amount, form the mixture into balls and then flatten these into cakes. Dredge the fish cakes with flour and shallow-fry them in the oil for about 3–4 minutes on both sides until they are golden brown.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.