Gone Fishing – ไปตกปลา
Once again I found myself along Kamala Beach taking a leisurely walk—Dern Kin Lom—เดินกินลม—in Thai this means “walk to eat the wind.” I loved watching what was happening on the beach and wasn’t sure if I was walking slower, or the beach was getting longer, or I was simply spending so much time talking to people along the way. I knew for sure that I took quite some time taking pictures and talking to the villagers who were fishing leisurely for a type of fish called sand whiting. At early morning, the whole family together, gone fishing – ไปตกปลา.
While mom fishes and enjoys her solitude, the children are at play with the sand and the waves.
Shrimp are used for bait for sand whiting fishing.
Sand Whiting -ปลาทราย – pla sai
Sand whiting – ปลาทราย – live in shallow areas along the coast in both the Pacific and Indian oceans. Kamala Beach has a nice sandy beach, a perfect habitat for sand whiting, which live on bugs and small shrimp. A full-grown sand whiting is about 6 to 8 inches long, with a thin, narrow body about 1-inch wide. It has a delightful sweet flavor and a firm texture. Kamala villagers have a passion for sand whiting fishing. It is a tradition as old as the village itself.
For a Thai culinary delight, look for fresh sand whiting on local restaurant menus. The most popular dishes are Kratiem Prik Thai (with garlic and pepper), tom som (sour soup), tod khamin (fried with salt and turmeric), gaeng som (sour curry) and my grandma’s favorite, tod tao jeow (fried with salted soy bean). The photo above is of Kratiem Prik Thai Pla Sai from Tha Maprow Restaurant in Phuket.
At Kan Eng Restaurant at Chalong Pier, our family ordered Tom Som Pla Sai – Sand Whiting Fish Soup – a simple soup to savor the freshest sand whiting.
I hope you will enjoy our family recipe. It is typical of the recipes that you will find in Phuket and other Southern Thai kitchens.
Phuket Sand Whiting Fish Soup
Tom Som Pla Sai
Tom Som is a basic sour soup with a hint of sweet from the freshest fish. It is a typical sour soup in the Southern region of Thailand where sour fruit is used to give the dish its sour flavor. Each province has it owns preference among the sour fruits, such as som khaek or Asam fruit, salak, hibiscus or young leaves, and tamarind or young leaf.
The word “som” has two meanings: one is “orange,” or “sour taste.” We also use som to call or identify sour tastes such as som khaek or asam fruit for example. Most sour fruits contains citric acid; when they are added to soup or curry dishes there is no need for vinegar or lime juice. An important part of learning the art of Thai cooking is understanding the sophisticated use of sour fruits to balance the sour flavor in Thai soups and curries. In America, substitutions for the sour fruits include sorrel leaves, tamarind, and Jamaican hibiscus.
Yield: 3 cups broth
Serves: 42 cups water 1 teaspoon shrimp paste 3 pieces dried Asam fruit- Garcinia Atroviridis –ส้มแขก , or 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed, and cut into 3 inch-pieces 2 shallots, peeled, smashed, and cut in half 8 sand whiting, or 2/3 pound halibut cut into chunks ¼ teaspoon salt
To make lemongrass and shrimp paste broth, bring water to a boil in a medium size pot on medium high heat. Add shrimp paste and Asam fruit or tamarind concentrate. Stir until shrimp paste is dissolved. Add lemongrass and shallots and let mixture boil for 5 minutes. Place fish in the boiling broth, which should be slightly covering the fish. Cook until the fish changes color and becomes opaque and the size is a bit smaller—about 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Remove from heat and serve.© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com
Kamala women love fishing.