It is made by pickling several varieties of fish, mainly Snakehead Murrel (Channa striata). The fish is cleaned and cut into pieces, after which it is mixed with salt and rice bran. The whole is then left in a big jar covered with a wooden lid, to ferment for three months to a year.
Pla ra sauce is commonly added to a number of preparations of Isan, Northeastern Thai, cuisine, such as som tam and certain types of nam phrik, as well as to some other dishes, all of them originally from the Isan region of Thailand. There is also a dried powdered version of pla ra that has been successfully marketed recently.
In a recent move by police and redevelopment workers to evict vendors from a market in the Khlong Toei District in Bangkok, the local vendors barricaded themselves. During the scuffles that ensued, the traders made "stink bombs" with thin plastic bags filled with pla ra and hurled them at the police. At noon of 1 February 2010 bags of excrement and pla ra were thrown into Thai Prime MinisterAbhisit Vejjajiva's house. Abhisit linked the incident to Thaksin's assets seizure trial. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban (in charge of security) explicitly blamed the UDD for the incident. Afterwards, the perpetrator was arrested. The perpetrator confessed and claimed that he threw the stinky substance because he was fed up with police indifference to his complaints of people smoking cigarettes near his house.