Paleo Tod Mun Chicken Cakes

Our favorite Thai joint back in our Austin days made a version of these crispy, spicy cakes that they served with a refreshing cucumber relish. It was our go-to appetizer—every. single. time. Now that we don’t live there anymore, I’m really loving this homemade version.

Homemade is always better!

In the original, restaurant recipe, the cakes are deep-fried, and the cucumber salad is dressed with both sugar and peanuts. My version—from my cookbook Well Fed 2—swaps pan-frying in coconut oil for the restaurant’s swim in peanut oil, and my cucumber relish is tangy, tart, and dressed up with cashews.

Note: Fish sauce is essential for the distinctive Thai flavor, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute 1 anchovy (or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste) mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut aminos. I like Red Boat fish sauce, and it’s worth the investment because a little goes a long way.

Paleo Tod Mun Chicken Cakes

Serves 4-6 | Prep 15 minutes | Cook 25 minutes | Whole30 compliant

Chicken Cakes:
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs

  • 6 scallions, trimmed and cut in thirds

  • 1 bunch chives, trimmed and cut in thirds

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste (Thai Kitchen is Whole30 compliant.)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (I like Red Boat.)

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • coconut oil for cooking

Cucumber Relish:
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, very thinly sliced

  • salt

  • 1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

  • a few healthy splashes of  fish sauce or coconut aminos

  • 2 tablespoons cashews, finely chopped


Toss the cucumber slices with a generous amount of salt and let them sit for 20-30 minutes in a colander to remove excess moisture. Rinse with running water, drain, and pat dry. Place in a large mixing bowl, along with the onion, cilantro, lime juice, orange juice, and fish sauce. Toss with two wooden spoons until the vegetables are coated with dressing. Allow flavors to meld and add chopped cashews just before serving.


Cut the chicken into 3-inch chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Process on high until the chicken is chopped and beginning to form a paste. Remove from the food processor and place in a large mixing bowl.


To the food processor, add the scallions, chives, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, curry paste, eggs,  fish sauce, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Process on high until it’s puréed, then pour into the bowl with the chicken. Mix the chicken and herb purée until combined, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Place 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil in a large, non-stick skillet and heat on medium-high, about 3 minutes. Measure 1/3 cup of the chicken and drop into the hot pan, flattening a bit to make a patty; repeat. You should be able to get 3 to 4 in the pan. Don’t pack them in there like they’re riding a Bangkok subway—give ‘em breathing room so they can get crisp. Brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Keep patting and  flipping until they’re done, then serve with cucumber relish.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace chicken with white fish, shrimp, or a combo.

Serve with a drizzle of Sunshine Sauce.

Place on a bed of Cauliflower Rice.

Print this recipe
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  • Laura in Little Rock says:

    Just to confirm/clarify – this is raw chicken that is going in the food processor in Step 2?

  • Amy says:

    Made this last night, and drizzled wasabi mayo over everything. Crapballs it was good!

  • Sara says:

    Could you do this with ground turkey?

  • Andrew says:

    Could I just use ground chicken? The stuff at Whole Foods is already kind of paste-y.

  • Sylvie says:

    I just made this recipe, it’s delicious!! Your blog and books are great! Wishing you continued success!! Thank you!

  • Oralia says:

    I made this w/shrimp and I did not like the texture much — it was rubbery. I think it’s best to stick w/chicken! also the cucumber relish was DIVINE!!! Thanks!

  • Kristy says:

    These are DELICIOUS! Saved a little time by using 2lb of ground chicken instead though. Came out great!!

  • Golden G. says:

    I made this tonight using ground chicken and it was wonderful! Like a lot of commenters I was wondering if I could skip the step of grinding chicken and the answer is yes – my family loved it! If you are trying to replicate a certain texture in particular I could see doing that step but if you’re busy and just going for taste you’ll be fine! Never had these at a restaurant before anyway so I guess I don’t know what I’m “missing” anyway 🙂

  • Erica says:

    I made these the other night, using only chicken thighs. They were delightful! As soon as I started cooking the first batch, my boyfriend announced that it smelled amazing.

    We are not strict paleo, so we drizzled on a bit of sriracha and Thai sweet chili sauce. YUM.

    My only comment is that the meat mixture was quite wet, so the cakes took awhile to get a good crust, and a few of them broke into 2 pieces. I might add an extra egg (for cohesion) and some coconut flour (to soak up moisture) next time!

  • DJDeeJay says:

    I know this is silly, but could you leave out the thai curry paste? I know it will affect the flavor but will it affect the texture?

  • Jared Hull says:

    Hi, I just finished making and eating these and they are delicious! However I made way too much for one person and was wondering if either the Cooked patties or the uncooked concoction could be frozen for later? Please advise, thanks!

    • To freeze the patties, cook them all the way through, cool them in the fridge, the wrap them in aluminum foil and plastic wrap and freeze. To defrost, place them in the fridge, then reheat them in a covered pan over medium heat until they’re hot all the way through. Then crank the heat to crisp up the outside.