Southern Thai Ancient Fermented Fish Innards Curry with Grilled Catfish
Hanuman and Chef Thapakorn Lertviriyavit (Gorn)
This dense curry made of fermented fish innards is dark coffee-brown in color – a salty, fiery hot dish, it grips the palate in an intense umami embrace. As the flagship dish in the repertoire of spicy southern Thai cuisine, it comes in different versions: some are water based; some have a base of coconut cream. But whatever the style, it is a fiercely hot dish that features both dried and fresh chilies.
1/2cupsmoke-dried fish (all varieties) (ปลาย่างรมควัน)char-roasted and crumbled
1/2cupfermented fish innards base (น้ำไตปลาปรูงรส (ต้มสุก))
1/2cupkaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด)
1kaffir lime fruit (ลูกมะกรูด)halved
1 1/2tablespoonstamarind paste (น้ำมะขามเปียก)
assortment of fresh vegetables such as fresh small eggplantscucumber yardlong beans, djenkol beans and stink beans
Prepare the fermented fish innards base
The raw untreated fermented fish innards in the jar.
The complete set of ingredients used to prepare the base: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, pandan leaves, coriander roots, fingerroot (krachai), galangal, dry long chilies and smoked dry fish.
In a cooking pot, char-roast the dry long chilies and smoked dry fish (which was crumbled beforehand).
Add the rest of the aromatics.
Add the raw fermented fish innards and dilute with water if necessary.
Boil it hard until there is no foul odor. Make sure that your kitchen is well ventilated or do it outdoors.
Strain the liquids, and collect from the mixture any remaining solid chunks of fish innards. Let the mixture cool, and keep it in the fridge for future use.
Prepare the curry paste
Prepare the curry paste ingredients: char-roast the dry bird’s eye chilies, peel the shallots and garlic, and scrape the peel of the fresh turmeric. Use both fresh and dry chilies, preferably of different varieties to create a more complex chili flavor, heat and aroma. Use high quality fermented shrimp paste.
Pound all the ingredients, starting with the chilies and salt, using a pestle and mortar. Pound into a consistent paste. Mix in the kapi.
Cook the Curry
Char-roast the smoked dried fish.
using your hand, crumble it discarding the fish bones and the abdomen. (Parasites often reside in the abdomens of freshwater fish).
Slice the grilled catfish into large segments.
In a pot over medium heat, bring water mixed with the fish innards base to a boil.
Add the curry paste.
Cook the curry paste until the fishy odor dissipates, and the curry is fragrant and thickened.
Season with tamarind paste.
Add smoked dried fish meat.
Add the sliced grilled catfish.
Add whole kaffir lime leaves.
Add halved kaffir limes.
Place in a serving dish, and garnish with hair-thin julienned kaffir lime leaves. Serve with fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, crunchy green doll eggplants and yardlong beans, together with stink beans (sa dtaaw, สะตอ) and djenkol beans (luuk niiang, ลูกเนียง).
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