Recipe: Thai Fish Karaage

DSC_0007A couple months ago, I met up with my friend Guillermo at a fine pub in Austin.   After a few micro-brews,  I got hungry and the smells wafting in from the psychedelic food truck in the parking lot weren’t helping at all. East Side King is the outfit slinging food from the open window and had a menu from start to finish of item’s I’d never had.   The dish I settled on, Thai Chicken Karaage, blended explosive fresh herb flavors with the salty satisfaction of well fried meat.  I took pictures, called my close friends and relatives, and had a near meltdown as the last bite was travelling down my gullet.   I knew I had to learn to cook this amazing recipe.

Strangely, I didn’t think to Google the recipe until I set down to share this tremendous recipe. Obviously there are differences between my recipe and ESK’s beyond choice of meat.  But I created a very close approximation and how I did it was pretty cool.  I turned to my new favorite book, The Flavor Bible** by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  In their book, they give you flavor profiles that are known to go well together.  I couldn’t remember every flavor I tasted from East Side King’s dish, but distinctly remembered the mint, cilantro and Jalapenos.   Then when I read where basil went well with all three, it triggered my taste bud memory and I knew I had it close.  A spicy sweet sauce, something crunchy, and a perfectly fried mild protein and I was on my way.


Thai Sauce

*  1/2 cup rice vinegar

*  1/3 cup brown sugar

* 1/3 cup karo syrup

* 4 cloves of minced garlic

* 1 tbsp of fish sauce

* 1 tbsp soy sauce

* half cup of water

Fish Fry

*  Fresh Fish Fillets (whiting, speckled trout, redfish, bass, crappie, maybe even hardhead?)

* Bottle of Brown Ale

*  Salt and Pepper to Taste

* 2 Cups of Rendered Bacon Fat


*  1 Bunch of Fresh Basil

* 1 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro

* 1 Bunch of Fresh Mint

* Thinly sliced Jalepenos

* Shredded Carrots

* Lime Wedges



Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil while stirring regularly.  Once boiling, reduce heat to lowest setting and continue cooking for 20 minutes.   Allow sauce to thicken and adjust to your taste preference.  Add more sugar or some dried chilies if you want.

Fish Fry

Heat bacon fat in a Dutch oven until gleaming but not smoking.  Wash and pat dry fish fillets and dump into a bowl of brown ale.  Dredge the fillets in seasoned flour and fry in the bacon fat till golden.  Be sure to not overload your Dutch oven because it will drop the grease’s temperature and result in soggy rather than crisp fish.


While still hot, place the crispy fillets on the plate and add garnish.  Drizzle sauce over the fillet and serve. Prepare to have your taste buds rocked.


** Without the The Flavor Bible I never would have been able to work through the complex flavor profile on my own.  This book’s uses are many–sausages, ethnic foods, and a multitude of spices.  I don’t want to give the impression its just for copycatting a recipe.  I use a lot of spices in the fish and game I prepare and it’s really widened my horizons in terms of ingredient usage.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.