Home to miles of blissful coastline and an array of tropical islands, it's no surprise to learn that Thai cuisine features an exquisite collection of seafood dishes.
From king prawns to tuna, squid to barracuda, the waters off the coast of Thailand are a rich treasure trove for fishermen and seafood lovers.
The Land of Smiles is the perfect place to indulge in a few sumptuous seafood feasts and fish in particular are a key component of many Thai dishes, especially in the South where a proliferation of islands offers easy access to the sea.
In most of the Kingdom’s restaurants it's possible to mix and match Thai flavours and discover that perfect taste combination for your fish dishes. On islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, plenty of eateries are devoted to seafood alone, so diners can take their pick of the catch of the day and then choose the sauces and sides they want to go with it.
Despite the ocean bounty available locally, some high-end restaurants in Thailand also import additional seafood, including the likes of snow fish and salmon, to satisfy global diners’ cravings. Served up with rice, spicy papaya salad, or even over noodles, foodies are treated to a rich fusion of flavors that has them talking about Thailand's eclectic cuisine long after they return home.
If you are a particular fan of Thailand's distinctive flavors, then lime-based pla nueng manao
may be the ideal seafood dish to indulge in. The tangy taste of this fish not only catches your tastebuds, but also offers a big reward for the stomach. Sea bass that has been marinated in a rich blend of spices and herbs, including coriander, garlic and lime, is then steamed which ultimately gives it a real kick of flavour. The fish is often served on a dish above a bed of charcoal, which keeps it cooking when you tuck in. Many restaurants even serve pla nueng ma nao on a fish-shaped plate, which is great fun for kids.
If your tastebuds lean towards a creamy, yet delectably spicy Thai curry, chu chi pla
is a wonderful choice for when you want to indulge in a fish curry. In fact, chu chi
is considered the quintessential curry sauce for most of Thailand’s fish dishes. Thai chefs use a generous fillet of white fish as the base for the dish. The curry sauce comprises lashings of coconut cream, kaffir lime leaves, curry paste and a handful of finely sliced red chilies. The extra burst of flavour chu chi offers comes from the traditional lemongrass, shrimp paste and galangal that are also used to make the sauce.
Break from the Spice
If your digestive system needs a small reprieve from a spicy Thai diet, then an evening meal of pla tord kratiem prik thai
is just the ticket. This fish dish is not served in a creamy curry sauce like many others, and the lack of spice really allows the divine garlic seasoning to speak for itself. If you are having a go at cooking this dish in the kitchen of your private villa, it is extremely simple to prepare, and only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. Pla tord is yummiest with stir fried red or white snapper, and the pungency of the black pepper in the seasoning removes the need to add any chili at all.
All in One Flavours
When it comes to seafood flavour explosions, pla sam rod
is possibly the most comprehensive Thai fish dish. This delectable creation packs in all the spicy, sweet and sour flavours that Thai cuisine is celebrated for. The literal meaning of “pla sam rod” is actually "fish with three flavours", meaning spicy, sweet, sour. Sea bass works particularly well with the seasonings that make up this dish and many of the favourite Thai seasonings are used to prepare the dish, including coriander, chilli, galangal and palm sugar. The right combination of spices is essential to ensure the fish generates that spicy sweet kick that will send your taste buds into foodie bliss. Served up with fresh salad, coriander and cashew nuts pla sam rod also offers a little extra crunch.
If you prefer a slightly less fishy version of a fish dish, then yam pla duk fu
is the perfect comfort food to gorge yourself on in Thailand. The dish offers up a delectable collection of textures and flavours and is also ideal if you are hosting a buffet at your private villa, particularly as its crispy texture can be re-crisped to perfection just before the guests arrive. The sour tang and slippery texture of an accompanying green mango salad offers the perfect compliment to this crispy fish. Cat fish is the ideal medium for yam pla duk fu,
which is roasted and grilled whole until it turns an inviting golden brown.
by Wayne Hue