In spite of its renowned reputation as the southern signature dish, “Tai Pla” curry, or southern style fish entrails curry, is not famous among only Thai people from the south. Thanks to the intense taste, blended with biting, pungent spices, the curry is on the top chart of all-time favourites among people from all regions who crave hot and spicy sensations. Unfortunately, being curry, there is a limitation in carrying it around for palatable time everywhere. Therefore, dried Tai Pla curry paste is developed and packed in worry-free, portable small plastic containers for convenience which can be brought along to enjoy anywhere. Plus, it can be kept for a long time to save savory moments for later occasions.
This is an opportunity for World Vision Foundation of Thailand’s Kapoe Area Development Programme, Ranong province to bring culinary magic out of the southern housewives who are parents of the sponsored children in Child Sponsorship Project. They can generate extra income through the support of dried Tai Pla curry paste making.
“We have already set up a group to make sweet banana crisps for sale,” said Somphorn Saenram, a member of Dried Tai Pla Curry Paste Group. “As the majority of the members are parents of WVFT’s sponsored children, we asked for the support for the dried curry paste making, so that we’d have another product for sale besides the snack.”
Although it is obvious that the members’ expertise in making the dish in their own style is no second to one another, the secret lies in the originality of the recipes adapted by the individuals. Thus, Kapoe Area Development Programme has organised a training event to develop the standardised recipe of the group’s dried Tai Pla curry paste. Once the new knowledge has topped up for the group which has already secured some funds, shortly later the group has launched the dried curry paste as its new product.
Yet... “Only after 3 days, the paste turned moldy because we did not use preservatives. So, we figured it should be dehydrated by baking and then we asked WVFT for the support of an oven,” said Somporn.
So, the know-how and the equipment are all set. The crew is ready and good to go! For two days a week, the members get together, bringing along some food to share with one another, and make dried Tai Pla curry paste together. While one was peeling onions, another was slicing lemongrass. Their hands were busy preparing the ingredients, their mouths were engaged in chitchatting and their noses were catching palatable scent of fresh fish grilled on the charcoal brazier. The joyous time flied. After 3-4 hours, the dried curry paste was ready for sale, plus each member earned 60 baht as their wage.
“It is another source of extra income. The more days you work, the more wage you earn, just multiply the number of days by 60 baht. Especially in the rainy season, as we have lots of free time, we earn a little more. After WVFT provided the support, the families have done so much better. Parents have gained more knowledge while children have got opportunity to visit places to experience the wide world,” Somphorn went on.
Nevertheless, to boost the product sales, the concern is not of the quality alone, but the appearance needs to be nice to look at as well. Therefore, Kapoe Area Development Programme has carried out another session of training for the group to provide knowledge on packaging development and group management and administration. It has also facilitated the group members to sell the dried curry paste in various trade fairs for their sales experience.
“Just 20 baht each…It’s so good and loaded with fresh ingredients. We selectively use only mackerel and hardtail scads to make the curry paste.” Somphorn played the role of a salesperson.
So, who can resist this? The price is so right and the paste is so tightly-packed with quality.