Hor Mok (Steamed Thai Fish Custard)
Typically steamed in intricately folded banana leaves, these Thai fish custards are baked in leaf-lined ramekins set in a water bath. This recipe comes from Saveur.com director Ganda Suthivarakom, and first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the article Hor Mok.
- 1 1⁄2 lb. boneless, skinless halibut, grouper, or snapper filets, finely chopped
- 2 cups canned coconut milk
- 1⁄3 cup red curry paste (available from Pacific Rim Gourmet)
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce (available from Red Boat Fish Sauce)
- 2 1⁄2 tsp. finely chopped palm sugar or packed dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 13 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly shredded
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 large frozen banana leaves, thawed and wiped with a damp towel (optional)
- 1⁄4 packed finely torn basil leaves
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 red Thai chile, stemmed, very thinly sliced crosswise
- Heat oven to 350°. Process fish, 1 cup coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, 2 tsp. sugar, and eggs in a food processor until very smooth, 1–2 minutes. Stir in 12 shredded lime leaves, season with salt, and set fish custard aside.
- If you wish to use banana leaves, lay the banana leaves out on a surface and use scissors to cut out 8 circles, each 6″ in diameter. Place a banana leaf circle, shiny side down, over each of eight 8-oz. ramekins. Press circles into bottom and up the sides of ramekins so that they are nestled snugly inside. Divide half the fish custard between ramekins, top each with basil leaves, and cover with remaining custard. (If not using banana leaves, simply layer custard and basil leaves directly in ramekins.) Place ramekins in a 9″ × 13″ baking pan; pour boiling water into pan so that it comes halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until custards set and begin to pull away from banana leaves or sides of ramekins, about 16 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining coconut milk and sugar with cornstarch in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and remove ramekins from water; top each with some of the thickened coconut milk, and sprinkle with remaining shredded lime leaf and chiles.