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Pad Phed Pladuk (Hot and Spicy Catfish)
10 1/2 ounces grated coconut -- (unsweetened)
2 1/4 pounds catfish fillet
3 tablespoons finely sliced lemongrass
1 tablespoon galanga -- sliced thin
1 tablespoon kaffir lime rind -- sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro roots
2 tablespoons krachai -- finely sliced
20 fresh very hot Thai chile
1/2 teaspoon salt.
4 onions -- medium size
8 cloves garlic
9 dry red chile -- remove seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 kaffir lime leaves
1. Use the grated coconut to make 1-1/4 cups of coconut milk, by adding 1/2 cup of very hot water, and working the mixture thoroughly and squeezing out the coconut milk. You may also substitute an equivalent amount of canned (unsweetened) coconut milk.
2. Cut the catfish fillet into medium size cubes (about 2" x 2").
3. Discard seeds from the dry chile, and soak in cold water for at least a half hour.
4. Separate about 1/2 cup of "cream" from the coconut milk, and heat in a frying pan. Fry the catfish pieces in the coconut "cream" until just cooked and put aside.
5. Put the following ingredients in a mortar: salt, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, mace, cardamom, nutmeg. Pound until well mixed into a fine pulp. Drain the dried chile (discarding the water) and add to the paste in mortar. Continue pounding until the chile pieces are mixed in. Add lemongrass, galanga, kaffir lime rind, cilantro roots, krachai, and fresh Thai chile. Continue pounding until it's a fine well mixed paste. (NOTE: You may substitute with an equivalent amount of pre-made Thai "Red Curry Paste").
6. Take the above curry paste with the remaining coconut milk, and fry over high heat until boiling. Lower heat to medium and continue frying, with stirring, until oil starts to form on top of the mixture. Add the cooked fish pieces and the coconut "cream" mixture. Lower the heat to low, and gently cook until thoroughly heated. Adjust tastes with fish sauce and a little sugar (just to have a very slight sweet taste). Add several kaffir lime leaves and cooked for a little while longer.
7. Remove to a serving platter and garnish with slices of fresh red chile peppers.
8. Serve with plain boiled white rice.