Som Pla, translated means “Sour(ed) Fish”. There are many Som´s that are homemade, the most famous probably being Som Moo (Pork) and Som Pak (Veggies).
I remember seeing Som Pla being sold in the streets of Laos.
Various Fresh Water Fish being sold in bags with loads of Garlic and Chillies.
They can be eaten “as is” or lightly fried with Shallots, Garlic and Tomato.
The salty/sourness may not suit every ones palate, but when eaten with Sticky Rice, I have seen many people converted.
In our recipe we have chosen Red Mullet, and used 1½ Kilos. The important thing is to make sure that the fish is very well cleaned and that no traces of blood remain, which will spoil the Som Pla.
We stored our fish in a dark cool place for 3 days, but it is best to check it after two days, as temperatures vary depending on where you are. You could also store it in the fridge, but it will take longer.
Once ready to eat (ripe), it should be stored in the fridge and consumed quickly.
Using fillets of fresh fish rather than whole fish will also allow you to keep it longer.
There are only a few ingredients needed (Garlic, Salt, Stick Rice and Fish), and the amount used can be changed according to personal preference. It is important to make sure that the ingredients are rubbed in well and thorough, we take about 3 to 4 minutes per fish, and unless you make the dish often, we would recommend taking 15 minutes or so per fish, making sure that you are firm, yet gentle enough not to break the flesh.