The closest European preparation to som pa is the rakfisk, a fish in brine eaten raw, which is found especially during the festive season in Norway. This fish, once fermented, has the particularity of having a very firm texture. The fish typically used in Laos is pa leum pangasius sanitwongsei.
For those who are new to the fermentation process, please read this page first.
For 4 persons
400 g fillet of white flesh fish with skin on, cut into 10 cm pieces
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of cooked, washed and drained sticky rice
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
200 ml rice soaking water
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
2 chilies, chopped
In a salad bowl, mix the fish and the salt then knead gently for 2 minutes.
Add the garlic, sugar and sticky rice and knead again gently for 2 minutes.
Pack the mixture into an airtight container and pour the rice soaking water over it. The fish should be completely submerged. The container should preferably be filled to a maximum of 80%. Before closing the container, place a clean, heavy object on the fish to press the preparation.
Store the container at room temperature and away from light for 4 days. The fermentation water will then become cloudy or foamy. You can then leave the preparation to improve for a few days in the refrigerator.
Drain the fish and season with fish sauce. Sprinkle with ginger and chillies before serving.
“To make the preparation taste more umami, you can, just before serving, mix the fish pieces with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and ¼ teaspoon of MSG.”