Get all the details for this Thai grilled fish street food recipe (pla pao ปลาเผา) right here:
One of my favorite ways to eat a whole fish is by grilling it the Thai way. On the streets of Thailand you’ll find pla pao (ปลาเผา), or Thai grilled / roasted fish, all over the places. It’s a common meal, and especially goes well with a plate of som tam (green papaya salad) and a couple of baskets of fresh sticky rice.
For this Thai grilled fish recipe (pla pao ปลาเผา), I made the two most common types of fish which you’ll find on the streets of Thailand: a a red hybrid tilapia known in Thai as pla tabtim (ปลาทับทิม), and a snakehead fish known as a pla chon (ปลาช่อน). Both of them are common and widely found in Thailand, but most of the time, and especially when I make it myself, I overall prefer the pla tabtim. In the US when I went to the Asian supermarket, I also found both of these fish available, so hopefully you’ll be able to find them wherever you are. You could also substitute this recipe for other types of firm whole fish.
If you buy your fish from the butcher, you should try to have them (or you can do it back at home) remove the gills and guts from the gills, and not cut open the belly – that way you can stuff the fish with the extra ingredients without everything falling out the bottom of the fish. Another tip for this recipe is that if you can keep the fish with the scales on, that’s better for the grilling process. So keep the scales on
Along with the fish itself, one of the most important components of a Thai pla pao is the seafood sauce, which in Thai is known as nam jim seafood. The sauce is pretty simple to make, but it has so much incredible flavor from the garlic, chilies, and fish sauce.
For the fish
2 whole fish (also 1 fish works fine, just reduce ingredients)
½ kilo of salt (big grain if possible)
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
About 1 tablespoon of water
4 – 6 stalks lemongrass
small handful of kaffir lime leaves
For the sauce seafood
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
15 cloves of garlic
20 Thai bird chilies (prik kee noo suan พริกขี้หนูสวน)
This Thai grilled fish street food recipe (pla pao ปลาเผา) should take about 15 or 20 minutes to get everything ready, and then it will need to be on the grill cooking for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how hot your fire is, and how big your fish are.
Enjoy this Thai street food recipe, and let me know how yours turns out!
Music in this video courtesy of Audio Network.
Check out my full Thai pad see ew recipe for further ingredients and instructions:
Authentic Thai recipes:
Free Thai street food guide:
Eating Thai Food Guide:
Bangkok 101 Guide: