Lao steamed fish – Mok Pa

This is one of the most ubiquitous dishes in Laos; it can also be made with chicken but I think the ingredients vary a little. I will experiment and update! I used a local white fish, but you could use any white fish, fillet, best with no bones. I spent ages tweezing the bones out of my fillet!
Serve with sticky or plain rice and a green veg – here I had steamed kale. The flavour should be delicate and fragrant, rather than spicy, so I de-seeded the chill. I used some anchovy paste in a tube as my homemade padaek was rather disgusting! And I also used baking sheets which worked fine. People say that foil can instil its own taste, so that baking parchment is better

Serves 2
800g white fish, or one large fillet, diced

5 cm lemongrass, white parts only, sliced and chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
1 cm fresh galangal, chopped
1 birds eye chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 tsp sticky rice powder (or glutinous rice flour – available in any Asian supermarket))
1 tbsp padaek (Lao fish sauce) (substitutes: normal fish sauce or anchovy paste)
1 egg
½ cup dill, chopped
1-2 spring onions, chopped
Handful Thai or ordinary basil leaves
8 sheets banana leaf or baking paper


Place the chopped lemongrass, lime leaf, garlic, onions, galangal, and chilli in a mortar and pestle and crush into a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, place fish into a mixing bowl. Add the paste, sticky rice powder, padaek (or fish sauce/anchovy paste) and egg. Mix well.
Add the dill, spring onion and basil. Continue to mix until well combined.
Lay out two square pieces of banana leaf per fish parcel (outer sheet horizontal, inner vertical). I folded my parchment in half .
Place a ladle full of fish in the centre of the banana leaf wrapper. Fold up into a parcel and pin with toothpicks,; if using parchment use a rubber band. Place into a steamer.Cover and steam for 20-30 mins.

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