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Tod Mun Recipes?

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I urge you to search out CAUL FAT from your meat department: they will special order it for you. You can even wrap the mince in caul and roll it in arrowrrot or corn starch, dust it off and fry.

This one is without any curry paste for a change. maybe not what you are looking for. If you tell us exactly what you are finding to be unsatisfactory with your present recipes, that would indicate where to point you to? Other wise the net is full of tod man pla [fish] recipes, all similar: red curry paste in judicious portion, a tiny bit of finely sliced thai lime leaf [fresh/frozen] finely chopped fresh yard long bean [the better alternative to fresh green beans, which use if nothing else is available], a light han with seasoning, various fish groung in processor, e.g. tilapia, halibut, skinless haddock, pollock etc.



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and post your questions to a whole community of Thai food experts!!!

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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Thanks - this shrimp recipe you posted looks good.

The issue I've been having with the recipes I've been finding online is they don't specify which type of fish to use - most of the time I've eaten it, it's been some type of white fish but I can't identify the flavor of it with all the spicing. Also, since I don't use a food processor, I suppose the old school method of fine dice and pushing through a tamis would produce the same effect?

And I'm guessing I can suss out yard long beans at my local ethnic markets - are they different varieties?

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I think you put your finger on the right place when you used the phrase "flavor overpowered by spice." My understanding is that Tod mun is an informal snack, eaten with drinks and such. Preserving any delicate flavor of the fish does not stand high in the list of priorities here, (my uncharitable suspicion) at least not quite in the way you have in mind.

Sometimes texture is important in South-east Asia together with a particular spicing and mouth feel. For example, meat balls need to have a certain bounciness rather than tenderness, and so on.

I would suspect that originally various types of river catfishes, including very large ones, were employed for these fritters. We still have them in the Indian -SE Asian region, species like Pangasius.

You can use whatever fish is on sale near you, including US farm raised catfish, tilapia, buffalo fish, Great lakes white fish, and many fresh water species including deboned carp mince [http://www.sfishinc.com/fishp1.htm for deboned mince] as also the white marine species mentioned upthread.

Two cleavers, a single cleaver or heavy chef's knife create a perfectly usable mince on a solid cuting board with a bit of elbow grease & folding over the mince on itself. Chop in a bit of caul fat if you can, or bit of fresh belly fat simmered for a very short time & cooled. Tamis not necessary: mince may become too rubbery.

Regarding yard-long beans, they are essentially variants of cowpeas. However, within them you find pigmented variants like the RED NOODLE vs. the Green. The taste is much the same. Young, before the seed have swollen to protrude visible, is best. Otherwise, they get stringy and chewy. Their inclusion is to add crisp, tender balance to a mix that otherwise might become too dense & rubbery. [in China, OFFICIAL ping pong balls are made of carp (dace) mince!!!!] So break and chew on a bean before buying so that you can verify that it is up to its intended role.

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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Fantastic info. It makes sense not to use the tamis - texture is something I love about this dish. But why the addition of caul fat? That's not something that's coming to me intuitively...

I've never seen carp on the market - does it go by another name commercially or there a key to locating it?

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Caul Fat in Shrimp, Fish etc.:

Imagine making hamburgers with 95% lean eye of round, cooked WELL DONE----- what do you have? A tougher hockey-puckish end result with no internal lubrication. Thus, the common suggestion to employ 80% lean beef.

Likewise, here very low-fat white fish like halibut, haddock, carp, pollock etc. are being minced very fine, which encourages the rubber ball effect of clumping tightly/closely together, then being shaped INTO FLAT-tish shapes [enough of a hockey puck, as far as cooking chemistry goes] and being deep fried, i.e. cooked well done, till the proteins and what not have changed their coiled shapes from their earlier conformations and entered into other shapes with respect to their neighbors with a vengeance [caused by heat].

The little bits of green add some breathing room and texture to prevent this uniform mass from becoming rubbery. BUT, if you have eaten Chinese dim sum, their har gau filling or shrimp "paste" in its many its many incarnations has a little internal cushioning added in the form of pork fat just like hamburger beef has internal cushion in the form of natural fat.

The Cantonese are the supreme lords of manipulating shrimp texture. Note I did not merely say masters! But to be brief, they do add fat to the comminuted shrimp. Caul fat has excellent flavor and dissolves invisibly into the tissues it is placed. Notice the other word I used. Not minced or chopped, as an inevitable fate.

The master chefs after preliminary treatment of fresh shrimp like salt-whipping, or sugar+ salt soaking, then take these by the handful and throw them repeatedly against a basin, breaking them down this way. That creates yet another texture, quite apart from chopping. Subsequent movements with following steps preserve and enhance this state.

Just fresh, only salt whipped, only sugar/salt soaked [for crunchiness], chopped or smashed: these are just a few ways to regulate the texture. Other steps follow in lock-step, playing off the first:

Then regulating the percentage fat & the type of fat in the mix will greatly control the end product. How much of the moisturizing veggie to add, be it water chestnut [fresh], bamboo shoot, or green beans [in your Thai version].

Binders: Whole egg in Thai, egg white in Cantonese, how much & HOW to add, influence the final.

Spicing and peppers: white or black, fish sauce, types of salt or wine, all subtly or frankly ffect the texture, chewiness of the protein.

Encasing:in a)caul+ dry root starch or b)just starch dusting or c)nothing at all, plus oil temperature makes a diference in the deep frying. Very hot oil not necessarily good. Sometimes frying temperatures that remain 350-360F without dropping better for SOME coatings & some stuff. You experiment & find your satisfying levels on your own stove and cooking vessel. Don't let a few early sub-par results discourage you. Repeating something many times is how all those street food sellers and chefs got their skills down pat!

You need not get caul or any fat at all. This was merely overkill & not a healthy suggestion. Do without first and see you will get a perfectly acceptable product.

Here is a rough guide to some types ofshrimp that are useful for these dishes where they re to be minced up anyway. NO NEED to pay top $$, try to find the BROKEN grade from resto supplier if possible. Failing that, find the smallest size/lb.

Same with pollock. You may find large lots of skinless fillets. Or catfish, US FARM RAISED, please on this ONE species!!

White Shrimp, farm raised, P&D TAIL OFF, 5lb box frozen,

[shelled, tailed, deveined]

61/70 = quite large, check base price should be no higher than $5/lb per 5lb box.

71/90 = lower than above

91/110= ditto

111/130= lowest

BROKENS : see what bargains you can wrangle, what is available, clearance, price by country of origin etc.




Small= lowest prices, logically, but do check for other sales, clearance etc.

X-small= lowest prices, see above.

Here is an example of a supplier; others abound, in Chicago you are in luck. Probe the resto scene & suppliers. Cash & carry places offer good deals . Cut that frozen 5 lb block into pieces & put them into freezer bags, and there you go. Not so diffcult with shrimp, cutting frozen blocks.

Distributed by Empress Interntational Ltd.;



You are in luck also in the fish dept., being in Chicago:

1301 18th Street, Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360, USA

800-831-5174 Toll Free USA 712-336-1750 712-336-4681 fax


"If it can be done to a freshwater fish Stoller Fisheries can do it for you."

As a primary processor Stoller Fisheries is capable of mincing (mechanically deboning) up to 60,000 pounds of under utilized species of fresh water fish daily. These fish include the common carp, buffalo fish, fresh water sheep head (drum), fresh water sucker (also known as the fresh water mullet) and many other species. The company can also mechanically debone salmon and ocean species.Please direct your inquiry to either Tom Opheim or Larry Stoller. PLATE-FROZEN FISH BLOCKS http://www.sfishinc.com/fishp1.htm

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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You are a goldmine of information. :-) I'm going to check into the purveyors you mention - for some reason, it never occurred to me to source things from the pros for home cooking. Why not though?

And I think I'm going to try this recipe with half made with caul fat and half made without, so I can't really examine the differences side by side.

I'm raring to go - hopefully next weekend I'll have the time devote to it. Will keep everyone posted as to the results!

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This turned out amazing. I used cod, long beans, kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, a little sugar, salt and egg and they tasted delicious - just like I imagined they should.

I shallow fried them, and for the most part they held together, but a few did break apart. I kept the size small, but I wonder if I need more egg or if I should have worked the mix more to make it smoother?

I also made bamee noodles with home made barbecue pork and a cucumber salad, and they all went great together. Definitely a repeat meal so I can perfect the recipes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

kitchensqueen, glad to hear that your tod mun pla was a success. Gautam, as always, is a font of fascinating and practical information.

Does anyone have one, or the ability to point me in the right direction?

Perhaps this is a moot point by now, but David Thompson’s recipe from Thai Food (click for a reasonable approximation of the recipe) sounds similar to what you described, except he calls for fish sauce instead of salt.

Last night (clicky) was my first time making tod mun pla. Our Asian market was out of long beans, so we had to substitute green beans. I have rarely ordered this in restaurants, so any suggestions for improvement would be welcomed.


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  • 1 month later...


Wonderful that your experiment turned out a success. Keep dogging the Brucemeister's Thai & Viet foodblogs: his pics will compel you to cook anyway, and soon you will be a maven, at least a brown belt from all that fish sauce and tamarind paste.

As to the break-up, you have correctly diagnosed the issue, about working the paste more. How, is described by Bruce in his own dinner post, in the recipe link he provides and the suggestion one made in the long shrimp psot upthread of Chinese chefs who throw shrimp and other delicate seafood back into the basin with measured vehemence a number of times set by their experience until they get to just that particular balance of sticky +AERATED.

This will make the fritters puff up provided the oil temps are appropriate, and do not drop [we are talking deep fry]. Shallow fry is more convenient for the home cook. Note that the puffing has a downside in that the fritters need to be served and eaten immediately. They collapse and become poofy and greasy when left any length of time; not good for graceful entertainment because guests feel embarrassed when the hostess/host is cooking & they must eat. Therefore, a clever stratagem needs to be devised, when such occasions arise.

As Bruce remarks, a crisp crust is not necessarily achievable, without making the fritter greasy. Our society has become extremely "crispy" conscious and may reject great food that does not meet this criterion, which is a pity. This may need to be explained to potential guests: such & such is the norm of this dish, do not judge it according to xyz expectations.

Another suggestion made by Bruce, replacing salt with fish sauce, could be especially valuable with a bland frozen fish like cod or haddock. Instead of the tartar sauce sustaining a close relative of Bruce, or in addition to, one might offer a mild Sriracha sauce or the sweet chili sauce that comes from Thailand.

It is easy enough to make one's own dip by cooking down some white sugar, water & white vinegar until one has the right syrupy consistency and one's preferred level of sweet & sour. Then, you may add chili flakes or not to your liking, crushed roasted peanuts out of a can (or not), and you have an interesting dipping sauce. You could even add some chopped fresh pineapple, the less ripe the better, or a tiny bit of minced semi-ripe fresh mango to this base. Play with it and you have fresh dipping sauces of a dozen types: raspberries too, why not? kiwi? rhubarb!! De-seeded green thai chili pepper. Combination of mango +green chili, etc.

I have very odd tastes but i like this dish a lot because it is low in fat: spring rolls steamed or microwaved instead of fried. One makes a filling with soaked and drained fine cellophane noodles snipped to size grated carrots, zucchini, chard, napa cabbage, bamboo shoot, soaked shredded shiitake or fresh, ditto cloud/wood ear mushroom [mu erh] for crunchiness [whatever you like, this is a grab bag recipe], some squished up soft tofu (if you have some around), fish sauce, scallions, black pepper, dash soy, pinch sugar, sesame oil. Make up a big mess in a big steel bowl, the more veggies, the more noodles to absorb water. Let be while you defost 9inch SPRING ROLL skins. Fill & roll. Arrange on a 10 inch dinner plate. Microwave with a paper towel cover until just done. Enjoy with a dip, Sriracha. There are a lot of veggies here, not much fat. Good if you like cooked spring roll skins, disgusting if you do not!

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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Thanks for all the insight v. gautam - you really helped me out in making these. I like your ideas for the dipping sauce - I might try your suggestion of mango and green chili, with some lemongrass mixed in.

I also want to make these with the caul fat, as I didn't get a chance to try that last time.

Reading and typing all this sure is making me hungry...

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If you have much trouble finding caul fat, fresh pork belly i..e. strips of fresh, unsalted, uncured bacon may be found [sometimes] in some supermarkets. These are just strips of pork belly. Chinese groceries always have chunks of pork belly all cut up for many uses. A couple or four cubes are good enough for experiments.

[bTW, these cubes of pork belly mixed with some bony bits like the chopped up spare ribs also foundin the same Chinese groceries, are THE cuts to use for the superb Vietnamese braise that employs deeply browned caramel, fish sauce, black pepper, sugar and only very tiny amounts of other flavors. Only as an occasional treat! Thit Kho in recipezaar is one version]

If these are plunged into simmering water and simmered until softened a tiny bit but not cooked away, they are a substitute for the caul fat [since the fat here has been precooked a bit and will do the melting away trick (hopefully!)]. Of course, you need to cool or even chill the strips, or you will have a horrible greasy mess on your cutting board. Be careful with knives & fingers, things get very dangerous when slippery.

Fat gleaned carefully from roast pork is great as well, just the inner part, so as not to have too much flavored stuff going in. Fat scraped from Siu Yook, roast pork belly, is great for this purpose, but that employing an expensive delicacy to prepare a less expensive one!! Since these fats have been well-cooked, they have no trouble doing the lubricating+ disappearing act in tod mun during the frying.

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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