Clay's Kitchen : Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย

Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย

© Copyright 1995-2020, Clay Irving <>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

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Pla Jian (Fish in Ginger Sauce)

Recipe from: Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott

This is another simple traditional treatment for fish: this time it is deep fried. The recipe includes some minced pork: this can easily be omitted. It is included in this case only to reproduce the traditional taste, as in the past this dish was deep fried in pork fat, which transferred the pork flavour to the fish. Today it would more typically be fried in vegetable oil, hence the small quantity of pork.

Equally traditionally this dish is deep fried in a wok: the tiny shallow woks foisted on western buyers by name-brand suppliers are frankly border line dangerous for this, so unless you have a traditional fairly deep wok, preferably a 20 inch wok or larger, I would recommend that you follow the dictates of caution and fry it in a deep sided skillet.

Note also that the dish is usually prepared with chicken stock. You can if you wish use a fish stock, but the chicken stock adds to the complexity of flavour in the dish.

Finally the fish is normally fried with the head on: this does, I believe, contribute to the flavour, but if you can't bear the fish staring accusingly at you as you cook it, feel free to behead it first.

You need a small-to-medium (about a pound in weight or a little larger) flat fish (pomfret, flounder, ...), cleaned, and with the sides slashed for the marinade to penetrate.

1 tablespoon kratiem (garlic), minced
3 ounces minced pork (optional, see above)
1 small carrot, julienned
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoon of sliced mushroom (preferably the black, dried Chinese mushroom, soaked for 15 minutes before slicing)
1-2 teaspoon yellow bean sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon kapi (shrimp paste)
1 teaspoon nam tan paep (palm sugar)
1 cup nam sup (stock)
2 tablespoon hom daeng (shallot/purple onion), chopped
2 tablespoon prik chi fa daeng (red Thai jalapeño), sliced very finely
1 tablespoon nam makham piag (tamarind juice)
1 teaspoon prik thai (ground black pepper)

Mix the marinade, and then in a small saucepan bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes; taste, and if needed adjust the flavour balance. Cool, and rub into both sides of the fish, and leave it to stand, covered, in a cool place, in the marinade for at least an hour.

Remove the fish from the marinade, and allow it to drain. Transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, two tablespoons of sliced prik chi fa daeng, and two tablespoons of julienned ginger, and then simmer to reduce to a sauce like consistency. If desired one tablespoon of brandy may be added to the sauce (optional).

Heat enough oil to deep fry the fish in a suitable pan over medium heat, and slide the fish into the hot oil, turn once, and cook until the fish is cooked through.

In the oil the fish was fried in sauté 2 tablespoons of shallots until crispy, and then one tablespoon each of bai manglaek (sweet basil leaves) and mint leaves, and use the fried shallots, mint and basil as a garnish.

Server on a platter: pour the reduced sauce over the fish.

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