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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Let's Cook Thai - Steamed Snapper with Lime Sauce

Konbu, miso, sake and mirin are making ways for chili, lemongrass, lime and fish sauce in my kitchen this month.   After Japan, Thailand, the land of a thousand smiles is the featured country of the month for Asian Food Fest (AFF) blogging event. Love this event, it's inspiring home cooks to expand their repertoires, turning their humble kitchens into one with an international feel.  Pretty sure, it's not only interesting for the one cooking, family members must be enjoying it too!

It's a tantalizing play of flavours whenever Thai food comes to mind.  A clever combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy tastes all into one dish.

This dish Plah Kah Pung Neung Manow (Steamed Snapper with Lime Sauce) is no. 23 on CNN Travel's list of 40 Thai Food We Can't Do Without.  Take this list with a pinch of salt but no doubt it's a very popular steamed fish dish in Thailand and it's normally served over a portable furnace of smoking embers in a fish shaped metal serving platter.  If you love that uniquely Thai flavor and steamed fish, i think you will like this.  

On a fish shaped platter no doubt but without smoking embers below it :))


A simple dish to make with just a few ingredients. Practically no fuss.  So, if you are bored of steamed fish in soy sauce why not give this a try.

Reference: Temple of Thai and Amporn's Thai Kitchen

  • 1 - 1 1/2 lb very fresh whole fish (for example red snapper, trout, perch or bass), cleaned and gutted (red snapper)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (bottom portion only, smashed)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 8 - 12 cloves (200 grams) garlic, chopped (10 cloves)
  • 10 - 12 Thai chili peppers (prik kee noo), sliced (2 only)
  • 2 - 3 red chili peppers (fresno), sliced (omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro root or 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro stems (root, stems and leaves from 2 plants)
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp white sugar (1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (or 1/2 cube Knorr Chicken Bouillon mixed with 1/4 cup water) (Water)
  • Banana leaf (optional) or aluminium foil (Aluminium Foil)

  1. Cut 3 - 5 diagonal slashes across the fish, about 1 1/2 inches apart on both sides, using a very sharp knife.
  2. Line dish with banana leaf or foil.
  3. Divide lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves into 2 portions.  Used 1 portion to line steaming dish and stuff the other portion into cavity of the fish.  Place fish on steaming dish.
  4. Bring water to boil over high heat in the bottom of the steamer. Reduce the heat to medium before removing the lid from the steamer, lifting the lid away from you and allowing the steam to dissipate before placing the plated fish onto the top rack of the steamer. Cover and steam for 10 - 12 minutes. If you plan to use the heated platter, undercook the fish somewhat but if you are serving it directly on a plate, then steam until cooked through.
  5. While the fish is steaming, in a bowl mix chopped garlic, chili peppers, cilantro, chicken broth, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Taste to adjust seasoning - the taste should be a balance of spicy, salty and sour. Set aside.
  6. When the fish is cooked to the desired degree, remove the steamer from the heat and transfer the hot fish to a thai style fish shaped serving platter or any serving plate. The fish-shaped platter can be heated with either hot charcoals or more conveniently with a Sterno that can be placed in the lower chamber of the platter.
Bangkok from my eyes to yours...

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Thailand) - November Month hosted by Lena of Frozen Wings


I always love steamed fish .... in fact almost 2 or 3 times a week. This Thai version seem to be so appetizing with the lime juice , lemon grass added in....I will slurp finish the gravy sauce.

that's quite true..we are training ourselves to cook more internationally..haha...hope your family is enjoying all as well. at times i have to cook certain dish twice cos i cant get the taste right and my family will say, again thai? yes, dont talk so much, just eat!..just like the other day, when i cooked that mapo taufu, they said, china? i said ..japan..hehe..

love the thai flavours in steamed fish and it's a good shot of the fish cos i think fish are so difficult to be photographed! thx for your submission.

Oh, you have reminded me of this dish which I used to order every time I go to my favourite Thai restaurant. But sadly that restaurant has closed many years ago. I do wish I could do this dish but it is hard for me to get very fresh fish. For now, I will enjoy yours with my eyes :)

Ade , this Thai steamed fish is way better than the Chinese style I sometimes cook :D The aromatics sounds wonderful ! Love your Bangkok photos .

Love this dish!! So flavorful yet light and healthy!

Very nice, must remind my hubby to go fishing.... I'll cook this with freshly caught fish.. Thanks for sharing.

@Mel: 2 or 3 times a week? I try to make it at least twice a week. Yes, this tangy version is a nice change to our typical chinese soy sauce style :)

@Lena: I am laughing as i read your comment! Can't agree more, love that 'dont talk so much' part, lol. Btw, i tried your mapo tofu recipe and the entire family loved it!

@PH: Err, actually i am not sure what qualifies very fresh. For me, i am happy with the ones i get from the wet market.

@Anne: You must be pulling my leg, pretty sure you make good chinese style steamed fish, i remember quite a few of your awesome looking chinese dishes! But this thai style is a nice variation to steam fish too :)

@Mr&Mrs P: Thank you! Yes, this is light and healthy :)

This looks exquisite. Can’t wait to eat it.

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