Fried Snapper With Chilli Sauce – Whip It UP!
Pla Gapong Raat Prik
Go Thai with this fried snapper dish. It’s slathered with a lip-smacking spicy-sweet-sour sauce perfumed with the lemony overtones of coriander roots that sets you salivating even while cooking. It is characteristic of authentic Thai cooking – spicy, sweet, sour and salty. This is restaurant food made simple and aroy!
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 2-3 persons
A: To Prepare Fish
1 medium red snapper, about 500g, gutted & scaled
1 teaspoon salt
B: To Season Fish
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 litre vegetable oil
C: Aromatic Paste
2-3 big red chillies
2 bird’s eye chillies, optional
5 large garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
5 big coriander roots, bruised
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons oil
D: Vinegar Solution
125ml rice vinegar
5-6 tablespoons granulated sugar
E: To Make Sauce
2 large tomatoes,* fully ripe, chopped
2 coriander stalks, leaves only, chopped
1. Rub fish with salt and then rinse it. Using paper towels, pat fish dry. Season fish all over including cavity with soy sauce.
2. Grind B ingredients to fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
Alternatively, use a food processor to grind mixture – it will result in a coarse texture with some grit and seeds.
3. Heat up oil to in a wok or deep frypan over medium high heat. To check if oil is hot enough, dip end of 1 chopstick into it. If it sizzles, then it is ready for frying the fish.
4. Gently slide fish into the saucepan from the side. Fry fish, 5-7 minutes on each side until skin crisps up.
5. Meanwhile, while fish is frying, pour 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate saucepan heated over medium high heat. Add aromatic paste and cook until it becomes fragrant.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine vinegar solution. Stir it into the paste until blended in.
7. Toss in tomatoes.
Cook until it is blended into the sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
8. If sauce is too watery, keep cooking and stirring until it reduces to a desired consistency.
9. Toss in coriander leaves, then turn off heat immediately.
10. Arrange fish on serving plate. Pour sauce over it.
11. Serve immediately with steamed rice.
TIPS: To ensure fish is fresh, scales should be firmly attached and glistening with moisture. Look for eyes that are clear, and moist gills. Give it a quick sniff, it should smell only of the sea.
*Ripe tomatoes are less tart and makes for a sweeter sauce.
TECHNIQUE: Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 parallel cuts (4cm apart) slicing into the flesh at 45 angle down to its spine. Chill in fridge until cooking time. This helps to keep down spluttering while fish is frying.
Angsana runs a cooking studio in Bangkok. Her family runs a street food stall in the city, and she draws inspiration for her recipes from this heritage of rich, aromatic and vibrant fare. Read more about Angsana in the article Cooking Up A Storm In Bangkok.