I enjoy eating out and trying new foods, but it’s not always practical. For one thing, if I’m traveling solo, I have no one to eat with, which means I can’t share meals and try more than one dish without looking like a glutton. There’s also the health factor. I’ve discussed staying healthy while traveling, and it’s just as important to eat healthy as an expat.
As I sit on my butt for eight hours a day (no standing desks in this office), I’m reminded that I need to bring my lunch to work to avoid unhealthy eating habits. The inexpensive options near my office are certainly not so healthy — and really, who knows what goes into some of the street food around here. So, I’m better off cooking at home and reheating my lunch in the microwave at work.
Unless I’m feeling ambitious, I generally cook variations of a few simple dishes — it requires less prep time and thought. Also, meals of lentil soup (or mung bean soup as the case may be in East Asia), are inexpensive and healthy.
One dish that I enjoy making when I have some extra time is fish cakes. This is a recipe my mother taught me and I adapted. No matter how you alter the recipe, fish cakes are best served with sweet Thai chili sauce, because that sauce is great on almost anything.
- 1/2 lb. of fish (flaky white fish like cod or pollock, but I prefer salmon for flavor)
- 2 medium-sized potatoes (I prefer red potatoes with the skin on, if possible)
- 1 cup chopped green onion (I’ve also used red onion)
- 1 egg
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp bread crumbs (optional, but helps with texture)
- Ginger (optional)
- Spices (I use chili powder, curry powder, cumin, but basil, oregano, etc. would be good as well)
- Fresh cilantro (if it suits your taste)
- Cut and boil the potatoes.
- When the potatoes are almost soft enough to mash, add the fish to the pot.
- After a few minutes, drain the water and mash the potatoes and fish.
- Mix in the green onion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs and spices. Let it cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Add the egg to hold the fish cakes together.
- Heat olive oil in a deep pan (alright, any oil will do, but olive oil is best).
- Form fish cakes about 1/2″ thick and the size of your palm.
- Fry them in the pan until golden on both sides.
This should make at least five fish cakes, but sometimes I’ve gotten six to eight because I don’t normally measure. You can freeze the fish cakes and reheat them in an oven, but they are more likely to fall apart.