Pla Raad Prik ปลาราดพริก – Deep-Fried Fish with 3 Flavors of Sauce
This tasty deep-fried fish recipe is very easy for you to cook, even if you’ve never done it before. This is a good one to start for making Thai food if you are just a beginner because this is easy to follow along.
For me, it was even easier! I cheated! I got one fresh Tilapia from Tesco Lotus here in Thailand and had them fry it for me (free) :p It was only 16 Baht (50 cents USD)!!! I was so excited to get it that cheap. Haha! Anyway, one good-sized fish was enough for me because my husband doesn’t like anything fried.
In Thailand, we fry the fish so crunchy that we will be able to eat the bone and head. I don’t eat the head but some people insist on it! 🙂
What Is Pla Raad Prik?
The Thai dish “Pla Raad Prik” is a flavorful and aromatic dish that features crispy fish smothered in a chili sauce. In our recipe we’re giving you 3 delicious sauces to try with it.
The dish typically starts with a whole fish, usually tilapia or sea bass, that’s deep-fried until crispy. Then it’s topped or served alongside a rich, tangy chili sauce made from ingredients like garlic, chili peppers, fish sauce, lime juice, and sometimes sugar to balance the flavors.
The sauce is where the magic happens, infusing the crispy fish with a blend of spicy, savory, and tangy flavors. The dish is often garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro or Thai basil to add a fragrant touch.
Pla Raad Prik is a delightful combination of crispy textures from the fish and the bold, zesty flavors of the chili sauce, making it a popular and highly sought-after dish in Thai cuisine.
Any Thai restaurant in Thailand that makes food to order will have deep-fried fish on the menu. When Thais eat in a big group, someone always orders it and people can share at the table. More often than not, there needs to be another order or two because that fish will go FAST! 😛
Does It Matter Which Fish You Use?
Traditionally in Thailand, Pla Raad Prik in Thai cuisine is made using fish like tilapia or sea bass. However, the choice of fish can vary based on personal preferences and regional availability.
The key consideration when selecting a fish for this dish is its ability to hold up well to frying while retaining a moist and flavorful interior. Firmer fish species’ tend to work best because they hold their shape during the frying process, allowing for that desirable crispy texture on the outside while remaining tender inside.
Some alternatives to tilapia or sea bass that could work well include:
- Snapper – Known for its firm texture and mild flavor, snapper is a popular choice in various Thai dishes. Snapper is a delicious fish with white and flaky flesh that is often caught on boats close to reefs and other structures off Thailand’s coast.
- Trevally – Giant Trevally and other trevally species are excellent to use for this fried dish. You can see a photo of a juvenile trevally at the top of this page.
- Cod – While not traditionally used in Thai cuisine, cod’s flaky texture and mild taste can complement the bold flavors of the sauce. If you can find it in your supermarket at home, use it!
- Grouper – Another firm-fleshed fish that can be used in place of the traditional options, offering a meaty texture and flavor. Just about everyone who loves fish, loves grouper!
Ultimately, the goal is to choose a fish that can withstand frying without falling apart and can harmonize with the robust flavors of the chili sauce. Adjustments in cooking time might be necessary depending on the thickness of the fish, but the overall aim is to achieve that perfect balance of crispy exterior and succulent interior when preparing Pla Raad Prik.
Most people use these little Trevally (Jack Crevalle) fish (see image above) because they are plentiful and cheap, and once you get a taste for them (a bit oily), they are hard to beat!
Prepare the Fish and Sauce
- 1 Tilapia freshwater fish (or any kind of fish you like)
- 4 tbsp. sliced Red Onion
- 2 tbsp. roughly cut Garlic
- 3 tbsp. cut Chili Pepper (more or less as you like)
- 4 large Chili Peppers (remove the seeds and grind finely, this pepper will help with color)
- 3 Coriander Roots
- 2 tbsp. Palm Sugar or white sugar as a substitute
- 3 tbsp. Fish Sauce
- 4 tbsp. concentrated Tamarind Juice
- 1 tbsp. Tapioca Flour
- 2 cups Vegetable Oil
Cooking Instructions for Deep Fried Fish and Sauce
1. Scrape the scales off, cut the stomach, removing the inside part, make long cuts in the whole fish and clean again. Wipe the fish with kitchen towels.
2. Heat the pan, and use a high volume of heat. Add vegetable oil. Wait until the oil is very hot and then lower it to medium. Deep-fried whole fish in vegetable oil until it is crunchy.
3. Remove from the pan when it’s cooked.
4. Next, in a small bowl we will make the sweet and sour sauce. Mix concentrated tamarind juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce all together. Taste the sauce and make it 3 flavors (sour, sweet, salty). Mix tapioca flour with 1 tbsp. water then add into the sauce.
5. Boil the sauce on low heat until it gets thick. Remove from the stove.
6. After that, in a small pan, add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. When it’s hot add onion, chili peppers, and coriander roots. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
7. Then, add the sauce from step 4 and mix well. Turn off the fire.
8. Place lettuce on a big plate. When the fried fish cools off, put it on the lettuce. Arrange sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on a side and dress 3 flavors of sauce on top of the fish. Serve with Jasmine rice.