Monday, 9 July 2012

Kaeng Khiao Wan Pla Thot/ Sweet Green Fried Fish Curry

It is Thai today!

A marriage of Eastern and Western influences, harmoniously combined with the traditional Thai style of cooking has led to what is now known internationally as the Thai Cuisine. It is a balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour. The food is loaded with fresh herbs like coriander leaves, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, basil and mint and what awaits your palate is simply dazzling and delightful.

My first experience of Thai cuisine was Kaeng Khiao Wan Pla Thot served at Okra Restaurant, Hawthorn in 2006. I was carrying my second child at the time and my friend from work (who had seen and experienced my love for seafood), ordered this for me.
Man! Did I fall in love? With the dish I mean; not the Chef!
Unfortunately, this was not the case with my husband, when I took him to the restaurant later. While he did like the dish, he kept complaining about the aroma of lemon grass which was a reminiscence of a bitter medicine he had as a child. But he grew out of it and now loves anything that is Thai.

Kaeng Khiao Wan is sweet green curry and Pla Thot is deep-fried fish. So this is deep-fried fish in a sweet green curry, with pak choy, okra, eggplant, water chestnuts and bean sprouts to make it a complete meal served with Jasmine Rice. I guess they call it sweet only because it is not as hot and spicy as the other Thai curries like Massaman.

I have to say that this recipe is not authentic because I could not get hold of galangal or shrimp paste which is very important in Thai cooking. This is a humble reproduction of the dish served at the restaurant and I believe that I've got as close to it as possible. You can always replace the fish here with stir-fried chicken or beef. Fish sauce provides the salty flavour to the dish; so you may want to play around with this to adjust the saltiness.

I should also add that I've not been able to nail down this recipe. Every time I use this recipe, I find myself making a few changes to the notes that I already made. While the curry is cooking, I taste and make a few changes on the go.....

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes + marinating time
Cooking Time: 30 to 45 minutes


For the Fish
  • 3 whole medium Snapper, around 500g each, cleaned
  • 1/3 cup of plain flour
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp green curry paste / Valcom green curry paste (store-bought)
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp
  • Vegetable oil, to fry
For the Sweet Green Curry
  • 5 tbsp green curry paste/ Valcom green curry paste (store bought)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cm piece galangal or ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste, mixed with 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot chilly sauce/ sambal oelek (adjust to suit your taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (adjust this to suit your taste)
  • 3 x 270ml can light coconut milk (adjust this to suit your taste)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 lemon grass stem, white part only
  • 3 tbsp coriander leaves paste
  • 180g eggplant, thickly sliced
  • 150g zucchini, thickly sliced
  • 150g pak choy, separated from main
  • 100g snap peas, head removed, cut into two
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 1 x 272g can water chestnuts, drained and washed with water
  • spring onions, chopped (garnish)
  • fried shallots (garnish)
1. Prepare marinade by mixing together all ingredients mentioned under 'For the Fish'. Make gashes on the fish. Cover fish with marinade and set aside in refrigerator for 2 hours. Deep fry fish and keep it aside.

2. Pan grill eggplant and zucchini, separately. Stir-fry pak choy and snap peas separately till just done making sure that the veggies should not lose their crunch.
3. Heat oils in a deep pan. Add onion and cook till softened. Add ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add curry paste and stir for a few seconds till aroma rises. Add tamarind water and stir well. Now add coconut milk, lime leaves and lemon grass. Bring to a low simmer. Add fish sauce, chilly sauce, soy sauce and more boiling water (up to 100 ml if required). Then add the vegetables prepared in step 2 and water chestnuts. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Take off heat. Add bamboo shoots immediately. Stir through lime juice and coriander leaves.
This mixed vegetable green curry can now be enjoyed by itself with jasmine rice.

4. For Kaeng Khiao Wan Pla Thot to be served, place fried fish on a deep serving plate and pour over the coconut curry sauce with vegetables. Garnish with spring onions and fried shallots.

Serve hot with Jasmine Rice.

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