A simple Thai style fish dressing

I haven’t posted much recently, because I’ve been too busy to do much cooking. Which sucks, but there you go.

This is my super simple dressing for fish. I think the basic idea might have come from David Thompson’s Thai Food – I have a feeling Will might have cooked me something similar some years ago. It’s like a no frills version of pla nueng manao, and works equally well with fish that has been steamed or pan fried. It also works well as a dressing for Thai/Vietnamese style noodle salad.

Dressing (enough for 4-5 people):

40ml fresh lime juice (about 1 and half limes)
40ml fish sauce
40ml tamarind liquid, prepared from dried (roughly, see below)
1 medium chilli, or half a hot one, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
fresh coriander to garnish

To prepare the tamarind, tear about a 2cm x 1 cm piece off the tamarind block, place in a cup, and pour over roughly 80ml of boiling water. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes, mashing the tamarind flesh with a fork every now and then.

Pour the lime juices and fish sauce into a jug or bowl, and the chopped garlic and chilli. Once the tamarind has been standing for a while (the water should be dark brown) give it a final mash and pour through a sieve into another mug. Press the flesh to get all the liquid out. Now add about 40ml of tamarind liquid to the dressing, stir, and adjust the proportions as you like. You should have a mixture of salty, sour and fruity flavours.

Leave the dressing to stand whilst you cook your fish. When it’s done, put it on the plates and pour a generous measure of dressing over each portion of fish. Serve with rice and stir fried veg, or an Asian style coleslaw.

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5 Responses to A simple Thai style fish dressing

  1. Bronwen says:

    Yum. We’ve been making fish cakes from a Vatcharin Bhumichitr recipe. Delicious and has a lovely side pickle that might go nicely with your fish sauce: carrots, cucumber and shallots with rice wine vinegar, chillis, granulated sugar and crushed peanuts. Delicious.

  2. Luke says:

    I think I used the word “style” too much in this post.

    Yeah, I dig those crushed peanut pickle dip things… do you cook it down (like a sweet chili sauce) or is it raw?

  3. Will says:

    Sounds very tasty, and from the ingredients looks very similar to the sauce for pad thai as well, only sugar missing.

    And David Thompson has basically the same recipe in his Thai Food book for that cucumber and carrot relish you mention Bronwen. In fact, we ate it when you came over to Holland on that wrestling weekend Luke.

  4. ellymillar says:

    I really need to buy David Thompson’s book; in fact, I’m going to do it. Right now.

    Nice recipe, Luke.

  5. Karim Rashad says:

    I experimented with Thai salad dressing for an entire evening once- made about ten with varying amounts and types of ingredients. Here’s my personal Thai dressing 🙂

    6 tbsp soy sauce
    4 tbsp vinegar
    2 tbsp oil
    2 tbsp lime juice
    2 tsp minced garlic
    1 tsp grated ginger
    1 tsp sugar
    1 finely chopped deseeded chilli
    1 finely sliced shallot

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