The Akha are an indigenous people spread across small villages in the mountain range that separates China, Laos, Burma and Thailand, one of the six most populous ethnic groups living in the area. Si Ma’ is a fish dish is cooked according to a recipe with some ingredients you may never have heard of!
The fish used in Si Ma’ is a common whitefish, tilapia, one of the most common fish raised in aquaculture worldwide. For this recipe you’ll also need chili pepper, spring onions and coriander: all easy to find. To cook the fish, however, you’ll need a banana leaf! But if you don’t have one to hand, then a a sheet of aluminum foil will do just as well. But the key ingredient, the one that gives the dish its name, is extremely difficult to find, so much that even Thai people don’t know it exists.
The Si Ma’ is a large tree which produces bunches of small green fruits. It only grows at high altitude in the forests of the mountains in northern Thailand. It’s harvested between November and December, and afterwards the fruits are dried in the shade and conserved in squash above a fireplace. The flavor is bitter, but it’s frequently used in soups, fish dishes, and in traditional medicine to relieve headaches.
Thai people tend to forget about indigenous Thai ingredients when it comes to what constitutes Thai cuisine. Now the Slow Food Community of Chiang Mai is putting some of these indigenous ingredients under the spotlight and showing chefs and the general public how to use them.
How It’s Made is a new format for Slow Fish. They are accessible for free on this site!
Event languages: IT, EN