1 Kingfish, 1 to 1-1/2lb
1 tb Finely sliced shallot
2 tb Shredded green mango
1 ts Shredded hot chilli
2 tb Fish sauce
3 tb Lime juice
1 ts Palm sugar
2 c Cooking oil
Snagged an excellent new Thai cookbook yesterday. It's
"The Elegant Taste of Thailand, Cha Am Cuisine" by Sisamon Kongpan and
Pinyo Srisawat. SLG Books, Berkeley and Hong Kong, 1989. ISBN
This is a big, well-illustrated-with-color=photos book. Mike hauled it
home yesterday with another one, "Keo's Thai Cuisine". (Being no dummy, he
realizes that new cookbooks inspire me to cook so every so often he'll
grab something for me to avoid having to cook himself.) But it wasn't that
simple... He'd bought them both, but intended to keep one and send one on
as a thank-you gift to a fellow that took him and Laurie sailing a couple
of weeks ago.
"You get to choose one to keep."
The dreaded words...
I paled, started to shake. Sweat beaded my brow. I grabbed the fanciest
one--the hard bound "Keo's" book--and paged through it, awed by the
illustrations, impressed by the recipes. Then I grabbed "Elegant Taste"
and started on the first page, intending to skip through it. Instead I
went through the entire book, page by page, from start to finish. I
slammed it shut.
"Elegant Taste" explains Thai ingredients (and gives both the Thai names
and spells them out using the Thai alphabet), makes sensible
recommendations for substitutions and has relatively simple but very good
and authentic looking recipes, each of which is illustrated by a beautiful
color photo. This can be really helpful when one is cooking a new dish and
isn't sure of what it should look like and what garnishes to use.
Garnishes are particularly important in Thai cooking as they're meant to
be eaten with the dish but often are not referred to in the recipe. For
instance, in the following recipe the dish is presented on a platter with
a half dozen or so scallion brushes and tomato slices, neither of which
are referred to in the recipe.
As for this recipe, some of you might remember a while back when I was
raving about a dried, fried fish dish I'd had in a Thai place, but
couldn't find in a cookbook. It was in "Elegant Taste" and here it is.
Plan Samli Daet Diao (Fried Sun-Dried Kingfish)
Wash, clean and butterfly the fish leaving the two sides joined along the
belly. Open the fish out flat so that the skin is downward, remove the
bones, and score the flesh with a knife.
After allowing it to dry, lay the fish opened out flat in strong sunshine
for five to six hours, turning regularly so the sun strikes both the skin
side and the interior.
Pour the oil into a deep frying pan and place on medium heat. When the oil
is hot, place the fish, still opened out, in the oil. When the lower side
becomes crisp and golden, turn the fish and continue frying until it is
done on both sides; then, remove from the pan, drain, place on a serving
Toss the shallots, mango and chilli together, seasoning with fish sauce,
lime juice and palm sugar so that a sour taste is the predominant one.
Spoon into a bowl and serve with the fish.
Serves two to three.
From "The Elegant Taste of Thailand, Cha Am Cuisine" by Sisamon Kongpan
and Pinyo Srisawat. SLG Books, Berkeley and Hong Kong, 1989. ISBN
This dish is very savoury with a crunchy/chewy texture. The version I had
in the restaurant still had bones but was so well fried that I just
munched up the bones and all.
Incidentally, I'm going to buy the "Keo's" book as well. It looks quite
good too but seems to be tailored more toward Western kitchens. For
instance, it calls for brown sugar rather than palm sugar in most recipes.
Now that's a perfectly adequate substitution, but why bother when I have
palm sugar on hand? (Smug grin.)
From Gemini's MASSIVE MealMaster collection at www.synapse.com/~gemini