Kanchanaburi-Style Snakehead Fish Jungle Curry with Bitter Yellow Eggplants (แกงป่าปลา ; gaaeng bpaa bplaa)

By: Hanuman
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jungle curry

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I obtained from a jungle food restaurant in Kanchanaburi province. The paste is a downgrade of a phrik khing paste – it omits the coriander roots and shallots. In addition, the recipe substitutes the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) with maawn fermented fish paste (กะปิมอญ; gabpi maawn), which is a popular ingredient among the Mon-Burmese population of the western province. The lack of shallots eliminates any sweetness that might impair the sharpness and heat of the dish. Furthermore, a double hit of citrus notes from holy basil are infused into the dish: from the holy basil flowers added to the paste and the holy basil leaves added to the curry.

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jungle curry

The vegetables of choice are pea eggplants, apple eggplants and yellow bitter eggplants. This trait of bitterness can be further explored by adding other ingredients with solid woody-earthy and bitter properties such as climbing wattle leaves (cha-om) (ชะอม), bitter gourd (มะระขี้นก) or Chinese bitter gourd (มะระจีน).

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Holy basil flowersCoriander root
Fermented fish paste (gabpi maawn)Shallots
Summary of the curry paste differences from a regular gaaeng khuaa paste

jungle curry
Kanchanaburi-Style Snakehead Fish Jungle Curry with Bitter Yellow Eggplants (แกงป่าปลา ; gaaeng bpaa bplaa)
This recipe is adapted from a recipe I obtained from a jungle food restaurant in Kanchanaburi province. The paste is a downgrade of a phrik khing paste – it omits the coriander roots and shallots. In addition, the recipe substitutes the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) with maawn fermented fish paste (กะปิมอญ; gabpi maawn), which is a popular ingredient among the Mon-Burmese population of the western province.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 16 mins
Course Curry
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 250 gr snakehead fish (ปลาช่อน)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (น้ำสต๊อกไก่)
  • 1/2 cup pea eggplants (มะเขือพวง)
  • 1 bitter yellow eggplants (มะเขือขื่น)
  • 3 apple eggplants (มะเขือเปราะ) sliced into quarters
  • 1 fresh green long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าเขียว)
  • 1 fresh red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง)
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด)
  • 1/2 cup holy basil (ใบกะเพรา)

Optional:

  • climbing wattle leaves (cha-om) (ชะอม)
  • Chinese bitter gourd (มะระจีน) or
  • bitter gourd (มะระขี้นก)
  • bamboo shoots (หน่อไม้)

For the paste:

Instructions
 

  • Clean the fish and remove the internal organs.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice the fish into 1″ (2.5 cm) thick steak cuts. Set aside.

Prepare the curry paste:

  • An overview of the curry paste ingredients.
  • In a pestle and mortar, pound the curry paste; start with the chilies and gradually add the other ingredients, from the driest to the wet. Pound the paste to a semi-fine consistency. Set aside.

Cook the curry:

  • In a pot, dilute the paste with chicken stock to the desired consistency.
  • Bring the stock to a boil and cook it until the paste loses its rawness.
  • Add the fish and continue to cook on medium heat.
  • Add the eggplants; cook until the fish and eggplants are fully cooked.

Seasoning:

  • Season to a salty flavor profile using fish sauce.

Add the herbs:

  • Turn off the heat and add the fresh chilies, kaffir lime leaves and holy basil leaves.

Serve:

  • Place the curry into a serving bowl.
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