We order these too often in Thai restaurants as starters and they are always a pleasure to have. The interesting thing is, it uses almost identical ingredients as Singapore/Malaysian otak otak, just that the latter is wrapped in banana or coconut leaves and barbecued while the former is deep fried.

Either way, these are delicious treats and making them at home is easy though time consuming. Delicate at least 2 hours if you want to make this.

Thai Fish Cake (Tod Man Pla)

Thai Fish Cake (Tod Man Pla)


500g Mackerel Fish (Batang or Tenggiri fish)

1 Tbsp Oil

Spice mixture

20 dried chilies, soaked for at least 30 minutes

10 Candlenuts

20g Belachan (or prawn paste)

6 Lemon grass (white part only), cut into 0.3cm thick

8 cloves Garlic

1 Big Onion or 12 shallots

6 Kaffir leaves, remove stem

1 Tbsp Bullion powder

1 tsp Ground Coriander seeds

2 Tbsp Coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Take a spoon and scrap the flesh off skin of the fish.
  2. Grind the spice mixture except for the chilies and lime leaves finely.
  3. Add the chilies and lime leaves and do not overgrind, you want to still see the bits of chilies and leaves.
  4. Add the fish and beat until the paste turns into 'bouncy' paste. It will look shinier.
  5. Take a tablespoon of fish paste and shape into a disk.
  6. Fry in a medium/hot oil.
  7. Serve with a salad or Thai sweet chili sauce.