Thai Fish In Chili (Pla Rad Prik)
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This can be made with any fish. We recommend catfish, sea bass or salmon. Thai preference would be to gut and clean the fish, but leave the head on. You may of course prefer to remove the head, even to use fish fillets.
1 fish, about 1 lb
Rice wine (white wine will do fine)
oil for deep frying
3 tablespoons garlic, finely slivered
1/4 cup green jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shallots, or other onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
3-4 sprigs young green peppercorn
Cut three or four slashes in the sides of the cleaned fish, and sprinkle with the rice wine. Dust liberally with the flour, and deep fry in hot oil until crispy.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan or second wok add a little oil to the hot pan and stir fry the chilis and onions until fragrant. Add the fish sauce, and bring to a gentle boil. Stir in the sugar and continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coriander leaves, and stir occasionally until the sauce is slightly reduced (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat, and transfer to a sauce jug. Add the basil leaves when cool. Now put a few sprigs of peppercorn in the wok and fry gently for a few minutes, keeping them in tact. These peppercorns should be placed on top of the fish at serving.
The fish, on a serving platter, and accompanied with a basket of sticky rice or Thai jasmine rice, and the jug of sauce is served with the usual Thai table condiments.
In Thailand, diners break off small pieces of the fish with chopsticks and transfer them to their plate, make the morsel into a ball with a little sticky rice and dip it into the sauce before transfering it to the mouth with the right hand.