I think I’ve found my new favourite street food. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I have many favourite street foods, but most of them are calorie bombs that threaten to clog my arteries for life (hello, deep-fried bananas). Let’s call this my new favourite (reasonably) healthy street food. Introducing the whole roast fish, complete with eyeballs sockets and scales. These fishy fellows are conveniently available at the end of our street, but to my eternal regret, it took us almost 4 months to sample them.
There was a good reason for our delay – we were concerned that they were scooped out of the local khlong, and frankly, nothing would induce me to sample critters that came out of that swamp. Fortunately, one of our health-conscious friends at school (thanks, Erin) assured us that the fish did not crawl out of the muck, and furthermore, they came with wicked-awesome sauce.*
We decided to make our first foray into fish paradise one evening. The cute couple that runs the fish stand seemed pleased and surprised that the farangs had popped in for some of their wares.
The fish are jammed onto metal skewers, and slowly roasted over a charcoal fire. When you order the fish, the vendor asks you to choose the one you want (kind of pointless, because they are all the same size). He then uses a knife to gently ease your prize off the prongs and into a Styrofoam box. His adorable wife adds a bag of wicked-awesome sauce, a bag of fresh veggies, and a bag of rice noodles. Haul it all home, and dive into your prize.
To access the fish goodness, simply peel back the skin. Don’t throw it away, though, because it is covered in delicious coarse smoked salt that is perfect with the tender fish flesh.
The fish is stuffed with an herb mixture – mostly lemon grass, I think.
There is an important method to eating this meal. First, flatten a large cabbage or lettuce leaf, and prepare to fill it with goodness. Layer rice/noodles, fish, herbs, and sauce on top of the leaf, roll it up, and mow down.
Take a moment to peel yourself off the floor after collapsing in a fit of ecstasy, and repeat the process. I may have missed out on a few months of fish fabulousness, but I plan to mend the error in my ways.
*This may or may not have been her exact phrase.