Nuoc Nong Community, Tu Le Village, Van Chan Town, Yen Bai Province

Grilled fish “pa pinh top”

What is Pa Pinh Top?

What is special about this dish?

The quintessential dish of Thai national cuisine

Pa Pinh Top is a Thai specialty, mainly in the Northwest. Pa in the Thai language means “fresh fish”; Pa Pinh Top means grilled fish, usually made from stream fish, carp, black carp … living in mountainous streams. The reason for the name “Pinh Top” is based on the shape of the fish when it is grilled, the people sliced, marinated, and then folded the fish to bake.


Pa Pinh Top is the fish grilled with “mác khén”

“Mác khén” is an indispensable ingredient of Pa Pinh Top. If it’s lack of “mác khén”, it is just normal grilled spring fish.

What is “mác khén”?

Mác khén – The soul of Northwest cuisine

Mác khén is a typical spice of the Thai people in the Northwest. After being roasted or drunk, mác khén has a scent like a grapefruit peel and look like black pepper in the lowlands (however, the taste is completely different), therefore, mác khén is also called the feral pepper.

The role of Mác khén in Pa Pinh Top

Did you know that most Thai dishes use Mác khén as spices? Because it has a very strong aroma, when you taste it, you will feel numb on the tip of your tongue. In addition to Pa Pinh Top, Mac khén is also used to spice up grilled meats, fried dishes, sauces and marinated dry meats such as dried buffalo meat, dried beef, … They are fragrant and much more delicious.

How to make Pa Pinh Top

Cooking ingredients

Carp: 1
Onions: 2 bulbs
Scallion: 2 branches
Basil: 1 bundle
Lemongrass: 2 bulbs
Chili: 1
Ginger: 1 bulb
Galangal flour
Rice flour
Amomum bamboo shoots (With this spice, the northwestern grilled fish will be more spicy and fragrant)
Spices: Mác khén, salt, MSG, soup powder

Step 1: Preliminary processing of raw materials

– Mince ginger, lemongrass, chili, onion, scallion, herbs, then mix well with salt, MSG, soup powder, mác khén and shoots of amomum.

– Clean the scales and then peck the fish.

– Note: fish should be pecked along the spine so that the fish can easily fold upside down. After pecking the fish, use a knife to cut the fish from the head to the tail.

– Remove the fish’s intestines and not wash with water (it will lose part of the sweetness in the fish).

– Notch parallel lines on the fish about 30mm long so that when marinated, spices can easily be absorbed into the fish.

Note when pecking fish: Must choose a knife very sharp to avoid being crushed fish meat.

Step 2: Marinate the fish

– After pecking fish, marinated with ginger, lemongrass, chili, onion, scallion, seeds, spices, and sprouts.
– In the fish, rub a layer of rice and galangal flour.
– Pa Pinh Top must be dry, fragrant, and have all flavors of sour, spicy, sweet, salty, and bitter.

The dishes that are served with Pa Pinh Top
The most perfect combination is to eat Pa Pinh Top with sticky rice and drink with corn wine. This dish can be eaten by everyone and diners will love it on the first try.


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