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Thai Catfish Salad (Laap Pla Duk)
© Con Poulos

Thai Catfish Salad (Laap Pla Duk)


This vibrant catfish salad with mint, dill, cilantro and a spicy lime dressing is served with a bowl of raw vegetables to balance the searing heat. “You want a really deep char on the catfish skin,” says Johnny Monis, who recommends wild salmon as an alternative. “It’s one of my favorite dishes year-round, but it’s best once the weather lets you get the charcoal grill going.”

  1. Three 1-pound whole catfish—cleaned, heads discarded (see Note)
  2. 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, plus more for brushing
  3. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  4. 3/4 teaspoon palm sugar or light brown sugar
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons Thai chile powder or other hot chile powder, like cayenne
  6. 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  7. 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  8. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  9. 1/4 cup chopped mint
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  11. Roasted rice powder (see Note)
  12. Radishes, cabbage wedges, cucumber slices, cilantro, mint and dill sprigs, and lime wedges, for serving
  1. Light a grill and oil the grates. Using a sharp knife, cut 3 shallow slits on each side of the fish and brush with fish sauce; grill over moderate heat, turning once, until white throughout and the skin is crisp, 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer the fish to a baking sheet and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the lime juice with the palm sugar, chile powder and the 3 tablespoons of fish sauce.
  3. Remove the skin and meat from the catfish; discard the bones. Pinch the meat into small pieces and transfer to a bowl. Chop the skin into small pieces and add to the bowl with the shallots, scallions and chopped cilantro, mint and dill. Add the lime dressing and toss well. Transfer the salad to a platter and sprinkle with roasted rice powder. Serve with vegetables, herbs and lime wedges and pass any remaining roasted rice powder at the table.

You can substitute 1 pound skin-on catfish or wild salmon fillets for the whole fish; adjust the grilling time.

Roasted rice powder is available at Asian markets, but it can be made at home: In a skillet, toast 1/4 cup raw sticky rice over moderate heat, stirring until golden, 12 minutes; transfer to a spice grinder and let cool, then grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy, citrusy off-dry German Riesling.

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