Fish fermentation consists of a simple salt-curing process: mixing or coating a whole fish, sliced fish or minced fish meat with salt and rice husks (or ground roasted rice). The mixture is then allowed to rest and ferment for few months. This fermentation process creates deep, intense umami flavor agents accompanied by a strong stench. It is only with culinary sagacity and skill that cooks are able to harness and direct these powerful flavors within the context of an appetizing dish, and to constrain the odor to an agreeable intensity.
This dish can be found both in Thailand's streets food stalls and in the menus of the high stars restaurants. The spicy stir fried is a perfect choice to the drunken man’s plate, it, with it's kick, helps the whiskey run down the glass and offers a wicked sauce to accompany the sophisticated squid's filling made of airy pork married with sweet shrimp. The mixture of pork and shrimp filling maintains moist and tender texture which is further enhanced by the surprise crunch from water chestnuts.
This Thai spicy catfish recipe gives catfish a new and fabulous spin. You can either use farmed or game fish with the same phenomenal results. The intensity of the wild ginger combined with aromatic fresh peppercorn will turn even muddy flavor fish into a delicacy.
Slice the fish are first, then role it in flour and deep-fry it to a crispy crunch. Quickly stir-fry the crispy fish with wild ginger and the peppercorns releasing their aromatic oils, creating wonderful flavors. While seasoning with light soy sauce and oyster sauce, our fish is now regaining heavenly moisture without losing its tempting crispiness.
The whole point of salting fish as a preserving method to the Thais goes back way before refrigeration and that is why slated fish is so deeply rooted in the Thai cuisine.
The salting process produces a new ingredient that is different and equally good to the original. The method is simple, the clean fresh fishes are rubbed with plenty of salt and let to dry in the sun.
Best quality fish is the sole factor of a great final product. That is why I was so excited the other day to find at the market a rare offering of salted queenfish (ปลาสละเค็ม ; bplaa sala khem). These fast predators are not commercially fished. Praised for their superb quality meat this game fish offers a challenge to catch both to the fisherman and the foodie alike.
Curry shops are for the busy businessman and the hungry traveler a real must. They offer a selection of the most attractive and appetizing food you can think of. This is the Thai version of fast food, even faster than in the west.
So here is a wonderful little lunchtime dish that goes well with yet another bowl of steamy hot rice, that comes of directly from the curry shops common repertoire.
In this straightforward and rewarding stir-fried dish, I am using boiled salted duck egg, available from Asian markets, as my flavoring assistant. During stir-frying, the egg yolk dissolves to a velvety sauce that softly coats the squids, and complimenting their ocean’s flavor. The alternate reds and greens strips of the vegetables emerged from the buttery yellow sauce are tempting for a taste.
The original version uses three egg yolks – a bit too much for a health conscious person like me. Therefore, I am using only one whole egg, both the egg white and the egg yolk. I tune down the white’s sharp saltiness with an additional portion of sugar, and compensate for the color lost by adding a spoon of commercial chili sauce to improve. The resulting is a well-balanced dish with the right texture that stands up in this healthy version against its original with a winning smile….
The dish captures the eye with its vivid color – It is beautiful! It is bright! It is happy! - and it fits well within the comfort zone of most westerners. It is not surprising that this dish has made its way to the top of the charts, consistently ranked among the top ten tastiest Thai dishes served abroad.