Frank Camorra's barbecued fish cakes and summer trifle


Frank Camorra

Making a splash with summer party food doesn't always mean making a huge effort.

Strawberry trifle with Pedro Ximenez jelly, Frank Camorra.

Strawberry trifle with Pedro Ximenez jelly, Frank Camorra. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Summer means it's time to get outside and light the barbie. In Spain, this would usually mean getting a small fire going and making sure my paella pan is level before filling it with tasty seafood and rice, but this is Australia, so I have a gas barbecue in the backyard. I love to grill a great aged steak or super fresh king prawns over the flames.

For something a bit different, I have been making Thai fish cakes - they cook incredibly well on the flat plate of my barbie. The mix of chilli, ginger, coconut and kaffir lime is so refreshing in an outdoor setting with an ice cold beer.

Taking a trifle to someone's barbecue or party is guaranteed to make you a most esteemed guest. This version, with its sweet seasonal fruit and beautifully spiced custard is simple to make. It can be served in glasses as I have done here - a bit more work but looks classier - or there's the classic in a large glass bowl. Either way it won't last long.

Thai fish cakes

Thai fish cakes Photo: Marcel Aucar

Thai fish cakes


4 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors

3 green onions, sliced

1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves

2 red chillies, chopped

500g white-fleshed fish fillets, skinned and boned

5 tbsp coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce    

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp palm sugar

Place the lime leaf strips, green onion, ginger, garlic, and chillies in a food processor and pulse to make a thick paste. Cut fish into chunks and add to the food processor with the coconut milk, fish sauce, cumin, coriander and sugar and process to a firm paste. Using your hands, take a small ball of paste, pat it into a fish cake shape and set it on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture. While making the cakes, rinse your hands every so often with cool water to stop the paste from sticking. Put the plate of fish cakes in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up. Preheat a barbecue plate and oil lightly. Place the cakes on the barbecue and fry for 30 seconds to one  minute before turning. Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel. Serve immediately with your favourite chilli sauce or some finely sliced chilli and coriander.

Serves 4

Strawberry trifle with Pedro Ximenez jelly

500ml cream

75ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split

1 lemon, zested

1 orange, zested 

2 cinnamon sticks

3 egg yolks

160g castor sugar

500g strawberries

375ml Pedro Ximenez sherry

3 gelatine leaves (gold strength)

1 small bought sponge cake

4 tbsp toasted almond flakes

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, add the cream, milk, zests and onecinnamon stick, scrape the vanilla seeds into the mixture and add the pod. Heat on medium until it comes to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse while preparing the egg mixture. Mix together the egg yolks and 60 grams of sugar in a bowl. Remove the vanilla pod and the cinnamon stick from the cream mixture, then pour it onto the yolks and sugar and gently mix together. Pour back into the saucepan and cook on a medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain into a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Pour the remaining sugar over the strawberries and mix well. Allow to macerate for three hours at room temperature - the strawberries will soften and produce an intense sauce. Add the sherry and remaining cinnamon stick to a small saucepan and bring to 50C over a medium heat, or until it is too hot to leave your finger in. Take off the heat and set aside to let the flavours infuse for 10 minutes. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. Squeeze the water from the leaves and whisk gelatine gently into the sherry until it dissolves. To assemble trifle, take six 240ml conical glass tumblers and cut out circles in the sponge to fit the base of each one. Gently press the sponge into the glasses. Pour four teaspoons of strawberry sauce over each sponge then cover with four to five teaspoons  of macerated strawberries. Push down a little with the back of a spoon. Pour four tablespoons of the sherry mixture into each glass and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set. Top the jelly with some custard and scatter with a few almond flakes.

Makes 6 glasses or 1 large bowl


The trifles can be made a few days ahead. Add sponge, strawberries and jelly, cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve, then add the custard and almonds at the last minute.