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.
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).
|Holy basil flowers||Coriander root|
|Fermented fish paste (gabpi maawn)||Shallots|
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- 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)
- climbing wattle leaves (cha-om) (ชะอม)
- Chinese bitter gourd (มะระจีน) or
- bitter gourd (มะระขี้นก)
- bamboo shoots (หน่อไม้)
For the paste:
- 1/4 cup dried boat bow shaped chilies (hua rua) (พริกหัวเรือแห้ง)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 1/4 cup lemongrass (ตะไคร้)
- 1/4 cup galangal (ข่า)
- 1 teaspoon kaffir lime zest (ผิวมะกรูด)
- 1/4 cup Thai garlic
- 3-4 holy basil flowers (ดอกกะเพรา)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Mon style fermented shrimp paste (kapi maawn) (กะปิมอญ) or
- 3/4 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ)
- 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.
Add the herbs:
- Turn off the heat and add the fresh chilies, kaffir lime leaves and holy basil leaves.