Snakeskin Gourami Fish or “Pla salit” (ปลาสลิด)
What is Pla Salit?
Snakeskin Gourami or “Pla salit” (ปลาสลิด) is a delicious Thai fish that’s an important part of the local cuisine. It’s typically deep fried until light golden for a crunchy and tender flavor, or used in a variety of menus. Pla salit (gourami) is salted and sun-dried to preserve its freshness.
Where is Pla Salit from?
Pla salit is raised in freshwater such as the Chao Praya River channels, rice paddy fields, lakes, and swamps in the central region of Thailand. A popular place with a reputation for producing fresh, high-quality Pla Salit is Bang Bo (บางบ่อ) in Samut Prakan Province (สมุทรปราการ).
Pla salit is native to Thailand. Overtime, the fish has spread to other countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. In those countries, Pla salit is also enjoyed as a food.
How is Pla Salit produced?
Snakeskin gourami is a major source of income for local villagers. The fish thrive in still, freshwater streams and ponds with lots of vegetation, which makes areas with flooded grasslands and rice paddy fields ideal.
Local farmers raise the fish for around 8-10 months. The caught fish are then cleaned, and the outer scales are removed to reveal the white, black dotted skin.
The head is cut off from the fish to prevent rotting. Next, Pla Salit is soaked in salt water for a period of time, usually 1 night to preserve the fish. Finally, the fish is spread out to dry in the hot sun for 1 or 2 days.
What are the variety of Pla Salit?
In Thailand, there are two main types of Pla Salit, Lai Daeng Thai (ลายแตงไทย) and Lai Suea (ลายเสือ). Lai Daeng Thai is usually bigger than the latter.
Male and female Pla Salit are different in appearance. Male gourami has a straight body with long, pointed dorsal fin, while the female has a rounder, curved belly with short dorsal fins. Female gourami is prized for its delicious, orange eggs in its body.
Uses of Pla Salit in Cuisine
The simple way to enjoy gourami is to deep fried the fish and its egg until crispy. It can also be used in various soups such as coconut milk with spices. The fish can be fried and cut into bite-sized pieces for an easy and tasty snack, or made into crispy gourami chili fish paste.