Lemongrass fish salad with chilli and lime

Goi pa laap

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

Using finely chopped, grilled chicken breast with shredded banana flower, instead of fish, is a Luang Prabang variation. As is minced beef (buffalo), like tartare, with the addition of fennel seeds and galangal, which in true Laos spirit would come under the hammer of the pestle and be pulverized to something sticky-pasty. The locals would eat this with slices of cucumber and sticky rice - and sometimes lettuce leaves, for wrapping up mouthfuls. Crispy shallots or spring onions can be bought in packets from Oriental stores, and will cut corners.


  • 500 g trout or carp or other white fish (such as sea bass, snapper) fillets
  • salt and white pepper
  • 3 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and finely shredded
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • vegetable oil
  • 6 fat cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4 shallots, sliced and left to dry a little
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp toasted ground rice
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely shredded
  • bunch each of Thai basil and coriander


Wash and rinse the fish, then salt and pepper all over, put on a plate and either steam for 8 minutes or cover with clingfilm and microwave until cooked through — then leave to cool. Flake the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Next, fry the lemongrass and lime leaves in a little oil until slightly frazzled and softened, then drain on kitchen roll. Then fry the garlic until golden - but don’t let it darken - and drain in the same way. Then fry the sliced shallot until crisp, and drain.

Mix the flaked fish with everything above and all the remaining ingredients. Taste and add more fish sauce if it needs a further salting. Divide into four portions and serve with a little more ground rice and shredded chilli scattered on top.