Fresh Trout with Chilli Sauce

Freshwater fish of all sorts abound in the lakes and rivers of Thailand. Delicately flavoured, they are usually prepared with pungent sauces, as in this recipe. But these sauces do not overwhelm the fresh fish flavour. Trout is generally available in the West and so I recommend it in this recipe. However, any freshwater fish, freshly caught, will do.


  • 10 dried chillies
  • 2 tablespoons plus 400 ml (14 fl oz) groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 110 g (4 oz) garlic, finely chopped
  • 110 g (4 oz) shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 small trout, cleaned
  • plain four, for dusting


  • fresh coriander sprigs


Soak the dried chillies in water until soft: about 10 minutes. Drain, seed and chop them finely. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the chillies, garlic, shallots and shrimp paste. Stir-fry the mixture for 2 minutes, then add the fish sauce, sugar and water. Remove from the heat and pour the chilli mixture into a bowl.

Wipe the wok clean, add the remaining oil for deep-frying and heat until hot.

Blot the trout dry inside and out with kitchen paper. Dust the trout on the outside thoroughly with the flour, shaking off any excess.

When the oil is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat down to medium and deep-fry the trout until brown and crispy all over. You may have to do this in two batches. Remove the fish and drain them on kitchen paper.

Arrange the trout on a platter and pour the chilli mixture from the bowl over them. Garnish with coriander and serve at once.