Today I’ll teach you to make a delicious Thai-style dish. we’ll be diving into the intricacies of creating a spicy fried monkfish paired with a traditional Prik Nam Pla sauce.

This sauce, essential to Thai cuisine, brings together the vibrancy of freshly crushed garlic and chilies with the tangy zap of lime juice, the umami depth of fish sauce, and the subtle sweetness of sugar.

A perfect balance of flavors, it marries well with the delicate, meaty texture of monkfish tail.

You will learn how to expertly prepare the fish, cutting it into bite-sized pieces ideal for quick frying in olive oil. This ensures each morsel is crispy on the outside and succulently tender within.

Spicy Thai-Style Fried Monkfish: Prik Nam Pla (Day 20)

Serving the fish atop freshly cooked or even cold white rice enhances the dish. This allows the Prik Nam Pla sauce to seep through, infusing every grain with its dynamic flavor profile.

Whether you choose to drizzle the sauce over the fish or serve it on the side for dipping, you’re in control of the spice level to suit your palate.


To create the authentic spicy fried monkfish with Thai-style ‘prik pla’ sauce, you will need the following:

  • Monkfish: About half a pound of monkfish tail, sliced into eatable pieces.
  • Garlic: Approximately three cloves, smashed and roughly chopped.
  • Lime: One whole lime, which can be tossed into a mortar and pestle, or juiced if you’re using a mixer.
  • Chilies: One to six chilies, depending on your spice preference, finely chopped. Bird’s eye chilies are traditional, but any hot chilies can work.
  • Fish Sauce: Five tablespoons, a key ingredient with no substitutes, made from fermented anchovies.
  • Sugar: One to two tablespoons, palm sugar is ideal, but white or brown sugar can also be used.
  • Olive Oil: Sufficient for frying the fish, about two tablespoons.
  • White Rice: Cooked beforehand, which can be served cold or warm to accompany the dish.

Making the Prik Nam Pla Sauce

Chopping the Lime

  • Step 1: Select a ripe lime.
  • Step 2: Cut the lime in half.
  • Step 3: Place both halves into the mortar.

Cutting the Chilies

  • Step 1: Choose your desired number of chilies; use six for high spice.
  • Step 2: Slice chilies into small pieces, a few millimeters in length.
  • Tip: For less heat, remove the seeds.

Preparing Garlic Cloves

  • Step 1: Take approximately three garlic cloves.
  • Step 2: Smash the cloves lightly, then split them lengthwise.
  • Step 3: Slice cloves to match the size of chili pieces.

Mixing Ingredients in Mortar

  • Step 1: Add the cut lime, chilies, and garlic into the mortar.
  • Step 2: Pour in five tablespoons of fish sauce.
  • Step 3: Sweeten with one to two tablespoons of sugar, white or brown.
  • Step 4: Crush and mix everything until fully integrated and fragrant.
  • Step 5: Adjust chili quantity to taste, remembering it will be spicy.
  • Step 6: Remove lime skins after mixing.
  • Final Note: Combine until the sugar is dissolved, and enjoy the balanced flavors.

Monk Fish Preparation

Slicing the Monk Fish

Firstly, ensure that you have your monkfish tail, which should be approximately half a pound. Before cutting, remove any sinew from the meat; this part won’t cook well and doesn’t have a good texture.

Cut the fish into pieces about an inch or 1.5 centimeters thick, suitable for one bite each. These pieces will shrink slightly when fried, so account for this when sizing your cuts.

It’s not necessary to add salt and pepper since the sauce you’ll prepare will bring a sufficient blend of flavors to the fish.

Cooking the Monk Fish

Heat your pan and add a bit of olive oil—about two tablespoons should be enough for the fish you’ve prepared. Once hot, place the monkfish pieces into the pan. They will require brief cooking; a minute and a half to two minutes on each side is adequate.

When one side is golden and ready, turn them over to fry the other side. Upon completion, placing the fish on a bed of rice is recommended for serving. This rice can be cold, as the hot monkfish laid over it will provide a nice contrast in temperatures.

Serving the Dish

Plating Monk Fish and Sauce

Once your monkfish is properly fried in olive oil and ready, the plating can begin. Carefully arrange the fish on top of a bed of white rice crafted into an aesthetically pleasing circle.

This base of rice not only adds texture and flavor but also serves to absorb the rich sauce that you will drizzle over the fish.

Use a fork and spoon to gently place the monkfish portions, ensuring each piece is evenly spaced and presented.

Sauce Serving Options

There are two primary methods for serving your sauce with the fish:

  • Drizzling the Sauce: Start by spooning the sauce liberally over the fish, allowing it to trickle down onto the rice. This method lets the sauce infuse the dish with its flavor. However, moderation is key to avoid overpowering the balance of your meal.
  • Dipping: Alternatively, pour some sauce into a small cup to serve alongside your dish. This option is superb for guests who prefer to personalize the amount of sauce they consume.

    • Controlled Dipping:
      • Advantage: Empowers you and your guests to regulate the level of spiciness by adding sauce to individual bites.
      • Recommendation: For a communal setting, start with less chili in the sauce to cater to varying spice preferences.
Yield: 2 portions

Spicy Fried Monkfish with Prik Nam Pla Sauce

Spicy Fried Monkfish with Prik Nam Pla Sauce

Enjoy a flavor explosion from the Thai kitchen with their sauce known as Prik Nam Pla (directly translated as Chili Water Fish) drizzled all over fried or grilled monkfish chunks.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1/2 lb monkfish fillet
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1-6 chilies
  • 5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • 300g white rice


Making the Prik Nam Pla Sauce:

  1. Cut the lime in half.
  2. Place both halves into a mortar.
  3. Slice the chilies into small pieces, adjusting quantity based on preferred spice level.
  4. For less heat, remove the seeds.
  5. Smash the garlic cloves lightly and split them lengthwise.
  6. Slice the cloves to match the size of chili pieces.
  7. Add the cut lime, chilies, and garlic into the mortar.
  8. Pour in fish sauce and sugar.
  9. Crush and mix until fully integrated and fragrant.
  10. Adjust chili quantity to taste.
  11. Remove lime skins after mixing.

Monk Fish Preparation:

  1. Clean the monkfish, removing any sinew from the meat.
  2. Slice the fish into pieces about 1 inch thick, suitable for one bite each.
  3. Heat a pan and add olive oil.
  4. Once hot, add the monkfish pieces.
  5. Fry for about 1.5-2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serving the Dish:

  1. Arrange the monkfish on top of the rice.
  2. Drizzle the Prik Nam Pla sauce over the fish or serve it on the side for dipping.

Serving Options:

  • Drizzling: Spoon the sauce over the fish and rice, allowing it to infuse the dish with flavor.
  • Dipping: Serve the sauce in a small cup alongside the dish for individual dipping.
  • Notes

    Make sure you crush the ingredients in the mortar until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    Palm sugar would work better than white sugar if you have it.

    Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 677Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 3603mgCarbohydrates: 75gFiber: 5gSugar: 22gProtein: 42g

    Did you make this recipe?

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    Torstein Rottingen
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