“Plain cooking cannot be entrusted to plain cooks” – Countess Morphy

The difference between catering and cooking is as wide as the berth I’d give a KFC outlet.

David Tanis is a good chef. He’s also a good home cook. Few chefs possess the expansive imagination to embrace both outlooks. Along with the equally erudite Rowley Leigh and Simon Hopkinson here in the UK, David has made it a mission. As a chef, he worked at Alice Waters renowned Chez Panisse in California, although restricted to half of each year. His remaining time was spent as a cook hosting a supper club in his tiny apartment in Paris. And like Rowley and Simon, he has written a number of game changing cookbooks, which have, in his case, all managed to keep one foot firmly in a classically European camp whilst judiciously dipping a toe into fashionable ‘fusion’ when the mood takes. However, with this Tod Mun he exemplifies one of his favourite cuisines, that of Thailand. What has kept this recipe in my sight is the wonderful dipping sauce, this can be put to use with so many other dishes.

Fragrant fish Cakes [Tod Mun] from One Good Dish (2013) David Tanis

450 g white-fleshed fish,

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tsp fish sauce

2 small cloves of garlic, smashed to a paste with salt

5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

6 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small bunch of coriander

2 tsp chopped chillies

2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly slivered

1 egg, lightly beaten

Coconut or peanut oil for frying

For the dipping sauce

60 ml rice wine vinegar

30 g soft brown sugar

2 or 3 tiny red or green Thai chillies, thinly sliced

2 tbsp chopped, unsalted peanuts

2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

To make the cakes, put the fish in a food processor with salt, pepper, fish sauce, garlic and ginger and process to a fine paste for about 1 minute

Add the spring onions, chilli, coriander, lime leaves and egg and pulse a few times to combine well

Transfer to a bowl

To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small serving bowl

Pour oil to a depth of about ⅔ cm into a wide cast iron skillet and turn the heat to medium-high

When the oil is hot, carefully add the fish mixture in large spoonfuls, in batches to avoid crowding, and brown gently for 3 minutes

Flip them over, flatten gently with a spatula and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until browned

Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with the dipping sauce

I added a tomato salad to my last batch