The Agriculture Ministry has taken steps to standardise the quality of plara or fermented fish, which is a necessary ingredient in Isaan traditional dishes.
On Tuesday, the Royal Gazette published a directive of the Agriculture Ministry with details on the quality of plara.
The directive was issued based on Article 5, 15 and 16 of the act on agricultural products’ quality standards of 2008. The directive was issued by the agriculture minister following a meeting of the committee on the quality standards of agricultural products on January 8.
The directive says that plara fermented fish must be properly mixed with water and must not be too dry or too dissolved. It adds the fish meat must be soft and skin must be intact. The smell of the fermented fish must be good, without emitting a foul or fishy odour.
The directive says the amount of salt used for fermenting must not be higher than 18 per cent of the weight of the fish. The fish must be hygienic without insects and worms and other contamination.
Use of colours and preservative chemicals are prohibited.
Plara is widely used by northeastern people to add flavour and taste to their dishes. It is often used in somtam or crushed papaya salad in Isaan style. In the past, Isaan households made their own plara but of late it has become a big business.