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From Thailand to Srilanka

Passport & Plate - Lemongrass & Chilli Fried Fish with Sticky Rice

Thailand | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients
Serves 4
4 x 200gm Wild Caught NT Barramundi (it was firm white Mekong River Fish)
Sea Salt
6 Cloves of garlic chopped
3 Stems of Lemongrass - bruised cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Birdseye chillies - sliced
large red chillies to garnish
750mls of veg oil
Thai basil leaves to garnish
Fried Garlic - bought from most Asian shops.
Fish Sauce
Snow Peas - sliced
Green beans - sliced
1/2 tsp Shrimp paste
3 tsp palm sugar
3 Tbsp water
2 cups of Thai sticky rice

 

How to prepare this recipe
Curing fish: Sprinkle the chopped garlic over the fish and sprinkle generously with sea salt, top and bottom. Place in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days to cure.
Rice: Soak the sticky rice in water overnight. Then steam in cheese cloth in a steaming basket for 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a wok, first fry the lemongrass for a few minutes, and then add the fish and cook for around 10 minutes or until cooked. Add the sliced chillies for the last few minutes. Remove from oil.
Next fry the whole chillies for garnish along with the Thai basil leaves. The leaves only need to fry for about 10 seconds.
Heat the palm sugar, water and shrimp paste in a wok, fry off the beans first then add the snow peas after a minute or two. Cook till just cooked through.
To serve roll a ball of sticky rice about the size of a small lemon and place in the middle of the plate, rest one piece of the fish up against this. Pour over a little of the frying oil, chilli, garlic & lemongrass. Roll 3 smaller balls of sticky rice and place beside the fish. Put some of the snow peas and beans next to the fish. Finish the fish with a few drops of fish sauce, the whole fried chilli, fried Thai basil leaves and a sprinkle of fried garlic.

The Thai people roll small balls of sticky rice to use to pick the food up with, so no cutlery is used.

 

The story behind this recipe
In 2014 I travelled to Thailand with my father for a yoga retreat in Chang Mai. My father returned home after the retreat and I set off to hopefully travel down the Thailand length of the Mekong River. I'd envisaged getting long boats all the way down staying in home-stays and learning Thai cooking. When I got to Nong Thai I discovered that it was basically impossible to get transport down the river.
I had to settle for traveling over land. I heard about a home-stay in Bung Kan, Nong Khai where you could sleep in a tree house to watch for wild elephants. After the bus driver dropped me on the side of the road in what looked like the middle of nowhere, Bunloed came to pick me up on a motorbike, I climbed on the back with my backpack hoping the weight of it wouldn't make me fall off the back! I stayed with Bunloed for incredible 3 days.
We travelled to nearby Wildlife Park where the monks put out sugar cane daily for the wild elephants to try to stop them raiding the farming land at night. The monks had built a few tree houses there. We had to go in when the monks delivered the sugar cane and could only leave at the same time the next day. We were only allowed to carry what we could run fast with in case the elephants came while we were arriving or leaving. We spent 24 hours on a wooden platform about 11m up and had to pee in a plastic bag so the elephants wouldn't smell us. At dusk about 24 wild elephants and 4 babies’ came into the clearing to eat the sugar cane. I fell asleep listening to them. It was incredible! We had Breakfast with the monks on our way home.
Bunloed invited some friends over to cook a few meals. I spent all day in the kitchen while the ladies showed me how to cook a few different Thai dishes. The cured fish dish and vegetables were two of them along with a lovely pig trotter soup. The morning I left Anne, one of the ladies, brought me a sticky rice basket to take home. Spending time immersed in Thai culture made this so memorable for me.

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