Haaw mohk steamed savory curried fish cakes (ห่อหมกปลา ; haaw mohk bplaa)

By: Hanuman
Click to listen to the Thai name pronunciation Listen to the Thai name pronunciation
fish haaw mohk

This recipe is for a coconut-based haaw mohk featuring clown featherback fish meat (เนื้อปลากราย) and slices of firm snakehead fish (ปลาช่อน). It is a classic recipe that follows the ancient haaw mohk tradition with a contemporary accent.

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The dish features the meat of the clown featherback fish (ปลากราย; bplaa graai), which is a light orchid-pink color. The fish is pounded into a chewy, firm and soft-textured paste before it is further stir-emulsified with coconut cream, curry paste and duck eggs, to which thin slices of snakehead fish are added as a textural element.

Instead of the phrik khing (พริกขิง) paste used by Maawm Sohm Jeen and Lady Plean, we will substitute a standard gaaeng phet (แกงเผ็ด), adding roasted peanuts for extra creaminess and nutty notes. You can safely follow Thaifoodmaster’s universal curry paste ratios to determine the quantities of the paste ingredients.

For the herb, I will use the great morinda leaves (ใบยอ; bai yaaw), but if these are not available, you can use any of the other common haaw mohk herbal beddings described in the haaw mohk Masterclass.

If you’re not familiar with the principles of haaw mohk making, you can quickly review them here, as this is the foundation for the technique used in this recipe. In addition, this article offers detailed instructions, including scientific and chemical interpretation of the techniques that Siamese cooks were expected to follow.

fish haaw mohk
Haaw mohk steamed savory curried fish cakes (ห่อหมกปลา ; haaw mohk bplaa)
This recipe is for a coconut-based haaw mohk featuring clown featherback fish meat (เนื้อปลากราย) and slices of firm snakehead fish (ปลาช่อน). It is a classic recipe that follows the ancient haaw mohk tradition with a contemporary accent.
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Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 12 mins
Course Main, haaw mohk
Cuisine Thai
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 100 gr clown featherback fish meat (เนื้อปลากราย)
  • 80 gr snakehead fish (ปลาช่อน) sliced into thin pieces

For the emulsion-stirring (กวนห่อหมก)

  • 1 cup coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
  • 1 duck egg (ไข่เป็ด)

For the phrik khing paste (+S1,S2,S3 +Peanuts):

  • 2 tablespoons dried 'bang-chang' red long chili (พริกบางช้างแห้ง) deseeded and rehydrated
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass (ตะไคร้) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon galangal (ข่า) thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander roots (รากผักชี) scraped, washed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kaffir lime zest (ผิวมะกรูด)
  • 1/3 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tablespoon shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) roasted and grounded
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (malet phak chee) (เมล็ดผักชี) roasted and grounded
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (malet yeeraa) (เมล็ดยี่หร่า) roasted and grounded
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted roasted shelled peanuts (ถั่วลิสงคั่ว)

Seasoning:

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (น้ำปลา) or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย) or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili (พริกป่น) or as needed

Bedding:

  • 2 cups Great morinda leaves (Indian mulberry) (ใบยอ) midrib stem removed, then chopped roughly

Toppings:

Garnish:

  • spring onion (ต้นหอม)
  • coriander leaves (ใบผักชี)
  • fresh red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง) sliced into hair-thin juliennes
  • kaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด) sliced into hair-thin juliennes

For Wrapping:

  • Banana leaf (ใบตอง)

Instructions
 

Prepare the tools for the emulsion-stirring:

  • If you are using a clay pot, soak it in water for at least an hour before using it; or you can use an ice bain-marie by placing the mixing container in a larger bowl filled with ice.

Prepare the banana leaf wraps or containers:

  • Lightly pass fresh banana leaves over an open fire until they soften.
  • Choose a container or wrapping style, then cut the banana leaf accordingly and fold it into the desired shape. Set aside.

Prepare the proteins:

  • Start by processing the clown featherback fish. In an earthen mortar and pestle, pound the fish meat vigorously to develop its actomyosin protein structure and improve its texture as it steams. You can add ice cubes from time to time, to keep the fish mixture chilled and prevent the fats from melting. Wetting the pestle will help to prevent the fish from sticking to it. You will know the process is done when the fish’s resistance to the pounding becomes constant. The process should take about 30 minutes. Set aside, keep refrigerated.
  • Clean, fillet and cut the snakehead fish into thin slices. Set aside.

Prepare the coconut cream:

  • If you are making your own coconut cream, grate and squeeze thick coconut cream with no or just a little water added. If you order fresh coconut cream at the market, ask for a cream squeeze without water added.
  • Reserve half a cup of coconut cream for the topping. Place it in a pot, add a pinch of salt and bring it to a gentle boil over low heat. Allow it to thicken slightly. Do not let it separate. Set it aside and let it cool.

Prepare the paste:

  • An overview of the paste ingredients.
  • De-seed and rehydrate the dried chilies in hot water.
  • Pound the curry paste; start with the chilies and salt, and gradually add the other ingredients, from the driest to the wet. Pound the paste until it is smooth with a rounded aroma. Add peanuts and fermented shrimp paste.
  • For textural and visual considerations, pound the paste to the finest consistency possible. Set aside.

Emulsion-stirring (กวนห่อหมก):

  • Add the pounded featherback fish meat to a wet clay mixing bowl or use an ice bain-marie. Add the thinly sliced snakehead fish. Add salt to facilitate the thickening of the mixture.
  • Start adding coconut cream. Start with an amount equal to half the volume of the protein and gradually add more as you stir the mixture.
  • Using a wooden paddle (traditional) or a silicone spatula, gently stir the meat and the coconut cream in one direction only. Gentle stirring is essential for emulsifying the proteins, fats, and liquids without the risk of the mixture breaking, separating, overheating, or forming foam – all of which will adversely affect the dish's texture. Continue stirring while gradually adding more coconut cream as the mixture thickens into a smooth composition.
  • When the meats and coconut cream have blended into a smooth consistency, add the paste. Keep stirring, maintaining the same pace and mixing direction.
  • Season to a salty leading with a sweet floor flavor profile. Start by seasoning the salty element using fish sauce.
  • When you are satisfied with the saltiness, add granulated sugar to adjust the natural sweetness of the coconut cream.
  • Adjust spiciness, if needed, with ground dried chili.
  • Add the duck egg and continue the process of emulsion-stirring, maintaining the same pace and mixing direction, until the proteins, coconut cream, paste and the egg are incorporated into a thick and very smooth consistency.
  • Optional – add kaffir lime leaves sliced into hair-thin juliennes.
  • The entire mixing process takes about 45-60 minutes to complete. Mixing it thoroughly and gently, as described above, is crucial to achieving the desired texture of the steamed curry.

Steaming:

  • Remove the midrib stem of the great morinda leaves, then slice roughly.
  • Line the banana leaf or ceramic containers with sliced great morinda leaves (ใบยอ; bai yaaw), Thai basil, or any other herbal bedding of your choice.
  • Scoop out a portion of the haaw mok mixture and place it on top of the herbs.
  • Drizzle the thick coconut cream on top.
  • Garnish with thinly sliced spring onions.
  • Wrap the haaw mohk and place it the steamer. Repeat until all the mixture is processed. Steam over moderate heat for 8-10 minutes. High heat will cause the haaw mohk mixture to overly inflate and become soggy. Garnish with coriander leaves, spring onions and thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves.
  • Serve it in the container or remove and serve on a plate.
Keyword haaw mohk, ห่อหมก
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Sourcing Wines for Discerning Private Clients
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