Thai Village Style Cooking
Fried fish recipe from the Southern region of Thailand
The other day, when I was at Pike Place Market, wandering around almost aimlessly like a tourist. I purchased a pound of sardines, I hadn’t tasted fresh sardines for the longest time perhaps since my grandma’s kitchen. I want to rediscover more Thai village style cooking with local ingredients here in Seattle. This was a good start.
The sardines are fresh from the Gulf of California and there is no need to worry about mercury because it is known to be very low. There are many good reasons to eat sardines, they are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, calcium and B 12. Perhaps that’s why both of my grandmother hardly saw any doctors in their life time. Every single day growing up, fried fish with turmeric and salt was on the table, besides other fish dishes. It was my grandma’s rule. The fish was the cheapest and healthiest protein that Phuket villagers could provide for their family way back then. I love fried sardines, they have a mouthful flavor and the aroma is unique.
If you are trying this for the first time, the challenge is how you will cook them, so you can eat everything including the soft bone and when crunchy enough, the back bone. It is a calcium intake time. As my rule goes, if it is chewable then it is edible! But trust your judgment and comfort zone also.
First I removed the fish guts. That was not fun. The problem is the sardines were so small and the belly was so relatively big. I tried the best I can to make sardines look good in the photos. After I gutted, cleaned and dried the fish, I followed my grandma’s old advice. I cut the flesh through the skin into tiny strips (the knife is perpendicular to the fish back bone) just enough to hit the backbone (please see the slide show). I repeated on the other side. I salted them and seasoned with turmeric. I placed 8 sardines in a food container and kept in the refrigerator for a day. I had something else planned for dinner that evening. When you want to keep the fish for a day in fridge, be generous with salt and turmeric. It is a way that we use to keep the fish fresh for the next day, back when we didn’t have electricity.
You may use the recipe below and cook sardines on the grill on medium heat on both sides until crispy. The problem with frying in your kitchen is the smell of the fish lingers for a day. I just want you to know that, but it tastes divine with hot steamed jasmine rice. Especially good if you eat it with your fingers, and easy way to remove the backbone then mix the fish by hand against the warm jasmine rice before eating, just like Thais in the Thai village do.
Thai Fried Sardines
Pla Sardine Tod
Serves: 41 pound sardine, about 8 sardines, gutted and cleaned and dried with towels 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric 3 to 5 tablespoons canola oil
Lay the fish perpendicular to you on the cutting board, cut the flesh through the skin into tiny strips (the knife is perpendicular to the fish back bone) just enough to hit the backbone (please see the slide show), Repeated on the other side. Follow the same steps with the rest of the fish. Sprinkle salt all over the fish and follow by turmeric until the fish is evenly cover.
Heat the frying pan on medium heat, when the pan is hot add canola oil. Fry on both sides until they are crispy by the touch and a light brown color. Serve with warm jasmine rice.© 2010 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking Pranee teaches Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas, her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com