Take your taste buds to the streets of Bangkok as you crunch down on David Thompson’s classic Prawn Cake recipe.
Australia has no shortage of culinary talent but someone who has stood the test of time is David Thompson. Over 20 years the chef has built a reputation around the globe for his knowledge of authentic Thai cuisine. While traveling to Thailand in the late 80s, Thompson fell in love with age-old recipes that were just waiting to be rediscovered. His philosophy was to showcase these traditional recipes at his restaurants and ignite a newfound appreciation for Thai cuisine around the world. After earning a Michelin Star and a place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants within 6 months of opening his first restaurant, it’s clear his mark has been indented in the hospitality industry for many years to come.
In more recent years, Thompson opened a chain of restaurants called Long Chim in Singapore, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Korea. The venues were born out of a passion for Thai culture and you’ll find traditional street food from places like Bangkok on the menu. “The streets of Bangkok are the part of Thai culture I love the most. You’ll find most Thai’s prefer to eat in the markets and on the streets – and it’s where you’ll find me too,” says Thompson.
As you step into the restaurants, you’ll feel you’ve been magically transported to a modern scene in Thailand. The interiors are best described as dark and industrial, and the walls are covered with traditional artworks from Bangkok artists. The open-style kitchen means you can watch the chefs at work, just as you would in the streets of Bangkok. The restaurant is lit by the kitchen’s open grill flames and the aromas travel to every corner of the restaurant so there’s truly no bad seat.
The Melbourne restaurant has now closed, but we still can’t stop thinking about the Prawn Cakes. They were served golden and crispy with the perfect sweet and salty plum sauce for dipping. While you can’t visit Long Chim in Sydney, Thompson is sharing the recipe so you can create a traditional Thai feast at home.
Long Chim’s Prawn Cake recipe (makes approximately 24)
10g Coriander roots
Pinch of salt
40g Red shallots
30g Peeled ginger
2g Thai basil buds
Pinch ground white pepper
350g Chopped prawns ( ½ very coarsely chopped and ½ almost pureed)
100g Coarsely minced yam beans (also known as jicama and easily found in an Asian supermarket)
3g Fresh prawn tomalley (optional)
100g Finely minced pork fat (ask your butcher for this, it really adds the magic to these cakes)
2 Egg whites, very lightly whisked
1 Tablespoon coconut cream
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
Large pinch white sugar
Pinch galangal powder
Large pinch chopped spring onions
Small grasp Thai basil, torn
10g Thai basil leaves
Oil for deep-frying
Small bowl of plum sauce (lots of brands available in your local shops or Asian grocer)
- Combine the paste ingredients to make a fine paste.
- Chop the prawns and wrap them in a towel to squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Coarsely mince the peeled yam bean and wrap them in a towel to squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Combine the squeezed prawns and yam beans, the tomalley, pork fat, coconut cream and egg whites.
- Mix well then start to slap to develop the protein. This technique means to pick up in your hand and throw it down into the mixing bowl you are using with force.
- Season the mixture with fish sauce, sugar and galangal powder, and slap once more.
- Stir through the torn Thai basil and chopped spring onion.
- Pinch and roll the prawn cakes in dumplings (each ball about 30g).
- Press a few Thai basil leaves into the cakes for extra flavour.
- Deep fry in oil and serve with plum sauce.