Pla Pad Cha / Pad Cha is a really delicious dish that represents everything “Thai”to me – spicy, saucy, sour and crispy. I first came across this dish at a small hut on the side of a late called Huay Tung Tao in Chiang Mai. It is served with a side of sticky rice which is perfect for soaking up all the tasty sauce of peppercorns, eggplants and herbs. YUM
The pla pad cha recipe uses a base of red curry paste combined with zingy green peppercorns, chilli, eggplants (the thai ones, not the big european aubergine ones!) herbs like thai basil and galangal that is stirred through some crispy fish pieces. You could probably make it separate to the fried fish and pour it over to serve for a dish that would definitely impress.
This recipe is my own one that after a few attempts, think I got it close to what it should be. Don’t be shy about using the fish sauce and chilli liberally – its worth it!
300g white fish fillets
1 cup mixed thai eggplants (small and egg sized)
2-6 small red chilli’s (depending on taste preference)
1 inch piece galangal
3 green peppercorn stems
5 stems thai basil
3 cloves garlic
1 stem lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 Tbsp red curry paste
3 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
Extra vegetable oil for frying
- Cut your fish into inch square pieces and lightly dust with cornflour.
- Heat some oil in a wok and when it is smoking, quickly fry the pieces of fish til they begin to brown. Place on paper towels to drain oil.
- Prepare your vegetables for the dish. Wash and cut eggplants into bite sized pieces, finely dice the chilli, lemongrass and garlic, and finely slice the kaffir lime leaves and galangal.
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, chilli and lemongrass and cook until fragrant
- Carefully add the fish to the pan plus the galangal and curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the peppercorns and eggplants and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
- Add seasonings to the wok – fish sauce, oyster sauce, and palm sugar to the wok and stir well to combine.
- Cook for 5 minutes then stir through the basil leaves.
- Serve fish with steamed rice or sticky rice.