Spicy Stir-fried Fish in Chili, Garlic and Thai Herbs (Pad Cha Pla)
Fresh Galangal, Chopped 2 Tbsp
Garlic Cloves, Chopped 5 Each
Fresh Thai Small Chili Peppers (Prik Kee Noo) 20 Each
Whole White Peppercorns 1 Tsp
Water 1/2 Cup
Chicken Bouillon 1 Tsp
Vegetable Oil 2 Tbsp
Prepared Paste 1/2 Cup
Whole Grouper, Scaled, Gutted and Chopped into Large Chunks 2 Kg
Water 1/2 Cup
Fish Sauce 2 Tbsp
Wild Ginger Peeled and Julienned 1/4 Cup
Fresh Green Peppercorns 1/4 Cup
Red and Green Large Thai Chili Peppers, Sliced Diagonally 2 Each
Kaffir Lime Leaves 4-5 Each
Traditionally, you can make the paste by pounding all the paste ingredients with a pestle and mortar, then adding water and the chicken bouillon. But for this recipe, please put everything in a blender and let it rip!
Place a wok on the stove and heat oil until hot. Add the paste mix and stir-fry until fragrant and the liquid has reduced until it is almost dry. Add the fish pieces and toss lightly, without breaking to sear the outside flesh. Pour in water, cover the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Tear the kaffir lime leaves into the pan and add the wild ginger. Toss, allowing the fish to cook and season with fish sauce. As the water reduces and the pan is almost dry, add green peppercorns and sliced chili peppers. Toss everything together without breaking up the fish.
This dish is cooked when there is just a little drop of liquid left in the bottom of the pan. Serve with steamed rice.
When cooking fish in an aromatic liquid, the fish will cook more quickly if the pan is covered with a lid. Once it is almost done, lift the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate. Finish off with the seasoning.
Again, the name of this dish (pad cha) is a cooking term which is applicable to most seafood ingredients in Thailand. Please note that in any seafood dish, there is always wild ginger, or grachai, which masks the fishy smell. Serves 4