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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Chilli Sauce with Fermented Fish - narm phrik plaa ra - นำ้พริกปลาร้า

The North-Eastern Thais love this sauce. Plaa raa literally means rotten fish, in Thai, and it has a very distinctive, though memorable, odour. The process of making this 'fish' is a time consuming one, as well.

When preparing any of these fish, it is imperative that they be cooked, to eliminate the possibility of parasite infection. But, don't let all that put you off this wonderful taste of Thailand.


  • 3 x small fermented fish - (plaa raa) - these may be Mud Fish, or Mackerel
  • 1 x small piece of Galangal
  • 6-7 x Shallots - finely chopped
  • 2 cloves x Garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 tspn x salt
  • 2 tbsps x Lime, or Lemon, juice
  • 12 x small 'bird's eye' Chillies
  • 2-3 x Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 1 tbsp x Fish Sauce
  • 1 tbsp x Lemongrass - finely chopped


Cooking the 'Fish'...Wrap the fish in Aluminium foil, add the Chillies, Galangal, Shallots and Garlic, seal it, and roast it on around 200F for about five minutes. Then, remove the Chillies, and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Once the 'fish' are cooked, they will probably break up. This is normal. Chop them up finely.

In a Mortar, grind the Chillies, Galangal, Garlic and Shallots together, to a medium consistency. You could even use a food processor here, but, pulse it, do not make the paste too fine.

Then introduce the fish to the other ingredients and mix them all together, adding the salt and lemon/lime juice.


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