I am still haunted my the Super-hot Mackerel Curry I had at Jane-tira in January. It is not so much the heat that has remained with me but the deep overpowering gut wrenching stench of rotted fish.
Looking through books for something to eat last night I came across a short section on fermented fish in a book of Thai cooking. The section was headed Putrid Pisces which gives off the general idea and it went on to describe some of the smell recalling the accumulated stench of putrefying corpses, abandoned kennels, dirty feet, stagnet bilges and fly-blown offal.
That about does it.
They go on to point out that most Thais would find the smell of blue cheese fairly off putting – so who are we to talk.
Anyway last night I wanted to cook something that gave at least some slight approximation of all that so we had a seafood and noodle soup.
The depth was provided by a combination of prawn paste and tamarind juice some pots of which have been lurking in the back of the fridge downstairs.
Prawns and squid were fried in very hot oil and a combination of finely chopped ginger, galangal, lemon grass, garlic and spring onions was then stirred in along with good helpings of the prawn paste and tamarind juice. I then stirred in some mange tout and spinach. Some sugar was added along with a good dose of fish sauce and finally I poured over a pan of stock that had been made with the prawns shells and the trimmings from the spring onions.
To eat, noodles were cooked and put in bowls with the soup being ladled on top.
Although it was good it had nowhere near the depth and sheer earthiness of the mackerel curry.
It looks like I may need to work out how to ferment my own mackerel this summer.