Friday, December 23, 2011

Fish and Egg Yolk Cakes with Coconut Béchamel

        As I was once looking through a cooking magazine, I came across a recipe called “Italian sformato” – a baked fish and egg yolk cake. I got very surprised as I have never heard of such a dish before (not that I consider myself an expert in Italian cuisine – yet I read quite a lot about it to have the right to get confused by a dish that is allegedly traditionally Italian). I did some research on the subject and found out that sformato is some sort of a soufflé, but less light and airy as a classic French one. It can be made simply with cheese or with some vegetables and is usually served as a side dish. To say true, I didn’t manage to find any mentioning of “fish sformato” (nothing to say of fish sformato with an egg yolk), so I figured out that there are actually no strict rules for making the dish and there’s no need to follow the recipe precisely. Thus, the first time I cooked it I decided to use chicken instead of fish mince and as my husband and I loved it very much, I kept doing it with chicken from that day on. Recently, however, as I eventually decided to go for the protein the original recipe called for, I suddenly felt an inclination to impart some Asian flavours to it. So, I used coconut milk, coriander and peanuts instead of cream, tarragon and pine nuts, and I seasoned the whole dish with fish sauce and ginger instead of plain salt and pepper. A new version of sformato turned to be great: the spicy notes of the cake made it very more-ish and the sweet undertone of coconut sauce beautifully complemented the dish. Altogether it made me forget about its Italian origin and to make a resolution to keep cooking it the same Asian way from now on!


Fish and egg yolk cakes
300 gm white fish, minced
2 slices of bread, crust removed
50 ml coconut milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp coriander roots, chopped
1 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp peanuts, crushed
a few coriander leaves

Coconut Bechamel
10 gm butter
10 gm plain flour
120 ml coconut milk
salt and black pepper to taste


  1. For fish and egg yolk cakes, soak the bread in coconut milk, then combine it with the minced fish, the egg, coriander roots and lime zest. Add ginger paste and fish sauce to the mixture and stir well. Preheat the oven to 200C. Butter two ramekins and divide ¾ of the fish mixture between them. Using a spoon, make wholes in the mixtures and pour egg yolks into them. Cover with the remaining fish mixture and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. For coconut béchamel, heat butter in a pan till it melts, add flour and stir to make a paste. Gradually add coconut milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from being formed. Cooked, stirring, over low heat till the sauce thickens. Season with salt and crushed black pepper.
  3. To serve, de-mould the cakes and place them on serving plates. Pour the coconut sauce over them, sprinkle with crushed peanuts and garnish with coriander leaves.


  1. Make sure not to overcook the cakes as the yolks in the middle should remain gooey.
  2. To make a lighter version of the dish, substitute the egg in the fish mixture with two egg whites.

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