Hor Mok - Infusion Power
Infusion Power

Curry paste and seafood collide with herbal delights to create one of Thailand’s true delicacies – Hor Mok

Words: Sarita Urupongsa 

Thais never run out of ideas for divising delicious recipes from fruits of the land and sea, but when subtle herbs are added, you get a true delicacy like Hor Mok.

Hor Mok, or curried fish wrapped in banana leaf, was traditionally baked in the hot ashes of a coal stove while another dish was cooking on the stovetop.

The old ‘Mok’ method changed with the arrival of Chinese steaming baskets, but the name stuck.

Hor Mok usually comprises steamed fish marinated in curry paste. It can be found all over Thailand, though the flavour varies according to local ingredients and tastes. However, its souffle-like texture and signature flavour infused with aromatic curry paste remains the same. 

Made from coriander root, galangal, kaffir lime, fingerroot and garlic, the curry paste is believed to be a good cure for gastrointestinal complaints.

For a perfect Hor Mok, the vital ingredient is fish, of course, though choices vary from striped snakehead and clown featherback to iridescent shark catfish. Some recipes even call for crab or other meats.

The cooking method is equally unfussy. The first step is to pound frozen fish into a fine paste and mix it with the curry paste. The mixture is kneaded and coconut milk is added until the right texture is achieved, with fish sauce and palm sugar added according to taste. Once the paste is ready, the mixture is placed in a banana leaf basket layered with assorted leafy herbs and vegetables like Thai basil and Noni leaves. Give your Hor Mok a creative topping with coconut cream, strips of kaffir lime leaves or sliced capsicum before steaming it for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with hot steamed rice.