Thai Sour Curry (Kaeng Som – แกงส้ม)

If those who follow me on Twitter have wondered why it took me so long to finally publish this post on Thai Sour Curry or Kaeng Som (แกงส้ม) after I’d announced it nearly two months ago, check out the length of this post. There’s so much to say about this curry, so many possible angles from which to approach the subject. When you see how much information I’ve been forced to relegate to the footnotes to keep the length of this post reasonable – and it looks like I’ve failed miserably – you’ll understand the procrastination.

After all, it’s kaeng som[1], one of the grande dames of Thai curries, we’re talking about. It’s the curry that captures so very well the flavors associated with traditional Thai food. A short, quick post would be disrespectful.

We loved kaeng som in our family. We loved it so much that it was served at least twice a week, or more if you count the leftover meals. And on the days when I didn’t have kaeng som at home, it would be served at school. If Brillat-Savarin is right, then I am nothing but a big bowl of kaeng som.

Opinions on Kaeng Som

You can’t love truly unless you love passionately.

I totally made that cheeseball line up. But didn’t D. H. Lawrence say something about how if you’re moved by passion, then you say something and say it hot — or something like that? Well, when it comes to Thai sour curry, which is – no polls are needed to verify this – a national favorite across all regions and socio-economic strata, everyone[2] seems to want to say something and say it hot.

Years ago, I came across a magazine interview of one of Thailand’s most celebrated senior actors, Sorapong Chatree, in which he, a native Ayutthayan, expressed disgust over the type of anemic, thin-as-water kaeng som he often found at inferior eateries throughout Bangkok. His mother’s version, said the actor, was always thick, rich, and full of flavor. And even though I remember neither the name of the magazine nor the exact time it was published, that comment has stayed with me, because it’s the exact same comment everyone in my own family makes every single time we go out to eat and get served this type of thin, watery kaeng som.

When this happens, you wonder if the cook makes it that way because he or she doesn’t know better or simply due to carelessness and greed for profit while hoping the diners won’t know better.

thai sour curry แกงส้ม

The trendy kaeng som with cha-om cakes (with chunks of chayote)

Disgusting,” I can still hear my Uncle S (known for being a food snob as mentioned in my post on Thai lime-chilli-garlic steamed fish) say under his breath whenever we walked by a street food stall selling this kind of watery kaeng som. “You can see from across the street. The broth is as thin as the water I use to wash these.” He pointed at his feet. (Uncle S is not known for mincing words.)

Polsri Kachacheewa, director of The Modern Woman Cooking School in Bangkok whom I highly respect, also made this comment to me when we talked recently. “These days, all you see is kaeng som with deep-fried whole fish,” said Polsri of one of the most prominent restaurant versions of kaeng som. “There was no such thing years ago!

The frying of the fish, he theorized, most likely originated as a clever way of masking the lack of freshness of the fish. “What else can restaurants do with fresh-water fish that’s old and smelly,” said the Thai food guru. “They fry it, of course.”

Then the trend caught on.

curry paste recipe

The paste has to be smooth before cooked fish meat can be added to it.

Suthon Sukphisit, a well-respected food and travel columnist in Thailand, said when I asked him about kaeng som, “This is the curry that fells giants.”

That’s his way of saying that those approaching this curry with a haughty attitude, thinking it’s child’s play, have often been put to shame. True, the curry is dead easy to make – just a matter of dissolving a paste into water. But to make it well? That’s an entirely different story. The consistency has to be right; the flavor balance has to be right. With such a short list of simple ingredients, any shortcoming would be very noticeable.

He also has something to say about a variation of kaeng som which has now become mainstream, kaeng som with cha-om cakes.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this started out as a way of getting rid of old nam prik sides,” he said, referring to eggy cakes of acacia pennata, a quintessential accompaniment to the Thai shrimp paste relish, nam prik kapi. “Then it became a runaway hit.”

Most street food stalls always have kaeng som and nam prik kapi as the main staples, and Suthon opines that it’s natural for the relishes to run out more quickly than the vegetable sides and for the vendor to dump those leftovers into a very forgiving, accommodating, any-vegetable-goes curry like kaeng som.

It could be true, as some have claimed, that this variation of kaeng som is an ancient recipe which was once forgotten then recently revived. But all I know is that my experience has been the same as Suthon’s; I hadn’t seen kaeng som with cha-om cakes either — until recent years.

But Suthon is not making a big deal out of how this variation came about; food constantly evolves, after all. And in this case – you’ve got to admit – it evolves in the right direction. Kaeng som with cha-om cakes tastes pretty darn good and has unsurprisingly become a favorite among both Bangkokians and patrons of Thai restaurants in the US (following the proliferation of Thai restaurant secret menus in the US). Besides, Suthon himself always insists that kaeng som and khai jiao (Thai-style omelet) are made for each other.

I wholeheartedly agree.

gaeng som gang som แกงส้ม

Not traditional, but a dressed trout or catfish is the most convenient ingredient in the US market out of which one can easily get both the meat for the paste and bones for fish stock.

And then we have my nanny, Auntie T, who was also our cook.

Although Auntie T doesn’t have a strong opinion about other people’s versions of kaeng som (or anything else, for that matter), she has over the years stuck with one and only one way of making kaeng som, alternating between two and only two vegetables, namely green papaya and Thai water morning glory. This is not due to the lack of imagination or unavailability of other ingredients; she just thought those two were the best among many vegetables which one can use in kaeng som. Also, she doesn’t believe in using shrimp meat in the paste either for that results in “a wimpy broth.”

I guess that’s a strong statement in itself, and now that I think about it, she’s quite opinionated.


Kaeng som paste with cooked fish meat added to it

Kaeng Som-Compatible Vegetables

Kaeng som is a great vehicle in which home-grown vegetables are served. Ask people who come from traditional Central Thai households what vegetable represents the most prevalent kaeng som ingredient to them and, most of the time, they would refer to the fruits, leaves, and blossoms from the plants grown within the fences of their home.

Ask my cousins, and they will say it’s either moringa pods (ma-rum) or Sesbania grandiflora flowers (dok khae) for those grew in their home. Ask those who only get to eat kaeng som at family restaurants and they’ll say it’s either a mélange of different vegetables or water mimosa (phak kra chet) for those are used quite heavily at restaurants.

Ask me and I’d say it’s green papaya for, you see, we had a very fertile papaya tree right outside the kitchen window.

green papaya recipe

Green papaya pulp sliced 1/4-inch thick – perfect for kaeng som

But these are just a few examples; there are many more vegetables and fruits that can be added to the very accommodating kaeng som. All kinds of summer squash work well. Watermelon rinds stand out as a favorite of mine. Chayote has also become a new favorite. Chunks of cauliflower, green beans, and daikon also mesh well together in kaeng som. During the advanced years of her life, my maternal grandmother loved the soft napa cabbage in her kaeng som. My mother, on the other hand, wouldn’t eat any kaeng som unless it had Thai water morning glory in it.

The only few vegetables I wouldn’t use include – though are not limited to – eggplants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, starchy root vegetables, and green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens. But other than those you can use anything or mix and match all you like. When multiple vegetables are used, you just have to be mindful of how long it takes to cook each one of them. Different vegetables cook at different rates, even though they’re cut into the same size. Therefore, be sure to always add those that take the longest to cook first, followed by those that take less time to cook.

Cubed cauliflower, cubed daikon, and cut green beans also form a popular mix for kaeng som.

Auntie T’s Kaeng Som

It’s impossible to identify one version of kaeng som as definitive, because each region has its own. The South has its own kaeng som[3]; so does the North and Northeastern. And the type of kaeng som featured here can only be described as being most consistent with what you’ll normally see in the Central Plains. A true blue Bangkokian, I grew up eating this version of kaeng som; it’s the only version my Auntie T ever made for us.

Recipes, of course, vary even within the central part, though not by much. However, in general it’s safe to say that central kaeng som is soured with prepared tamarind pulp, thickened with cooked fresh-water fish flakes that have been added to the curry paste, and does not contain turmeric or coconut/palm vinegar (sometimes lime juice) as is the case with the southern version.

Auntie T’s kaeng som is made with the simplest of paste ingredients: dried red chilies, shallots, and shrimp paste. While preparing the curry paste, Auntie T would poach a gutted snake-head fish (pla chon) whole. She would then scrape the cooked fish meat off its bones, discard the skins, and throw the bones and the head back into the same pot in which she’s poached the fish. She’d let the liquid simmer some more to extract as much flavor out of the fish bones as possible. The resulting fish stock, with all the fish junk strained out, would eventually be used in the curry base.

The cooked meat would then be pounded into the curry paste which would be dissolved into the boiling fish stock. Then the vegetable would go in, followed very closely by fish sauce, tamarind pulp, and palm sugar to taste. Once the desired taste is achieved and the vegetable is cooked through, the curry is done.

water melon rinds

Watermelon rinds, peeled, trimmed, and cut into bite-sized pieces for kaeng som

Commercial Kaeng Som Paste

Living in an area where a mere sighting of fresh kaffir lime leaves is enough to cause the most emotionless of Thai food-loving adults to burst into joyous sobs, I know how difficult it is to find every single fresh ingredient necessary to make traditional Thai curry pastes, i.e. ones that don’t foolishly contain ginger when wild ginger is called for or lemon zest when lemongrass is required. And if you’ve followed this site for a while, you know I don’t ever look down on those who use commercial curry pastes. (More on this in my post on Easy Thai Green Curry.)

However, with kaeng som, I’d like to encourage you – if I may – to try making the paste from scratch. First of all, all of the ingredients are easy to find. Secondly, it’s very easy to make. Thirdly, it’s one of those pastes that still taste wonderful even when done in a food processor. Lastly, most commercial kaeng som curry pastes, in my opinion, don’t taste that great. My apologies to all the brands out there, but it seems while they’ve done a great job with other kinds of curry paste, that doesn’t seem to be the case with their kaeng som paste.

Try spending a couple of hours making a gallon’s worth of kaeng som base to use in the weeks that follow. (I always do that, because I live a busy life as well and don’t always have time to make things from scratch every time I have a craving for them.) Season it until it tastes great to you, then divide the curry base into smaller containers, and freeze it for later use. Then all you have to do is reheat the base, add whatever vegetable(s) you have on hand, and your kaeng som is done in less than 15 minutes. Sometimes, I add some shrimp to it (or sometimes a catfish steak as shown) just before the vegetables are done; most of the time I don’t for there’s already plenty of fish meat in the curry base.

But if anyone wants to start with commercial kaeng som paste just to see how it is, they’d be wise to pay attention to the ingredient list and cooking instructions on the package. Some brands include the fish meat in the paste in which case all you have to do is dissolve the paste into the stock or water; some brands don’t include the fish meat in which case you need to blend in some cooked fish meat before using it. Also, the ones that include fish meat always come pre-seasoned, so proceed accordingly.


thai sour curry

A bare-bone version of kaeng som: just green papaya slices and the curry base
5.0 from 2 reviews
Thai Sour Curry Base (Kaeng Som - แกงส้ม)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A recipe for the base of kaeng som. Add desired vegetables and meat to this base to create Thai sour curry.
Recipe type: Soup, Curry, Main Dish, Entree
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: Makes about 6 cups
  • 10 grams dried red chilies (I use arbol), soaked whole in hot water until soft then drained well
  • 60 grams of peeled shallots, sliced thinly
  • 20 grams Thai shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 250 grams skinless, boneless meat of poached trout or catfish
  • 6 cups of plain fish stock (made of nothing else but fish bones and water)
  • 134 grams (1/2 cup) prepared tamarind pulp
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 30 grams palm sugar
  1. In a granite mortar, pound the chilies and salt together until you have a smooth paste with no visible pepper seeds.
  2. Add the shrimp paste and continue to pound until smooth.
  3. Add the sliced shallots, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and pound until smooth.
  4. Add the fish meat and pound until you have a smooth paste.
  5. Put the fish stock in a pot and bring it to a gentle boil.
  6. Stir in the prepared paste, followed by tamarind pulp, fish sauce, and palm sugar.
  7. Once the palm sugar completely dissolves, taste and correct the seasoning as necessary. The flavor should be predominantly sour, then salty, and a little sweet.
  8. Your kaeng som curry base is now ready to be used right away or frozen.
  9. To assemble a 2-serving portion of kaeng som, bring 2 cups of the curry base to a boil in a medium pot, add desired vegetables. Once the vegetables are almost ready, add cubes of fish fillets or peeled and deveined shrimp and gently cook until the fish or shrimp is done.

[1] Kaeng Som literally means sour curry, i.e. curry characterized by the sour flavor.

I cringe whenever I see kaeng som referred to as “Thai sour orange curry” or “Thai orange curry.” I really can’t think of any good explanation for why the word “orange” is needed there. The only thing I can think of is that the “orange” part might be an attempt – a misguided one – to account for the Thai word, “som” (ส้ม), which is generally used to refer to orange the fruit and orange the color in the Thai language.

To take this as a reference to som the fruit – as if to suggest that orange is one of the ingredients – is ludicrous for even those who don’t cook know that kaeng som contains as much orange as Grape-Nuts contains grape. Could it refer to orange/som the color? That makes no sense for this curry has the exact same color as the so-called red curry, and there’s no reason why one is called “red” and the other “orange.” Besides, panaeng curry and a whole host of others, which derive their reddish color from red chilies, also have the same color as kaeng som. We don’t go and stick the word “orange” in the English designations for those other curries, do we?

So it’s great that I’ve found out Thai food teacher Kasma Loha-unchit backs me up on this. The conclusion which she and I have arrived is that this is most likely a case of failure to understand the Thai language at the basic level.

You see, in addition to orange the fruit and orange the color, the word “som” also means “sour.” Granted, it is no longer used in that sense so much in the modern times (at least in central Thai) and what we still see now is mostly the remnants from the old days which have been preserved in frozen terms. But it doesn’t change the fact that “som” means “sour,” especially in the context of kaeng som.

A word doesn’t mean everything it can mean every time it is used; context determines usage. And in this context, it’s beyond crystal clear that “som” cannot refer to orange the color or orange the fruit.

Kasma has cited a few examples of other things that contain the word “som” that have nothing to do with orange but everything to do with sourness: (nam) som makham piak (tamarind pulp for cooking), Som Tam, soured pork (naem) which is referred to as mu som or jin som in northeastern and northern dialects respectively, nam som sai chu (vinegar), pla som (soured fish), etc.

The following is also something I’ve gleaned from my own study which provides additional support to what Kasma has pointed out.

The Famous Ramkhamhaeng Stele: Wiki Commons

The use of the word “som” to refer to sourness is found even in antiquity.

In the well-known Ramkhamhaeng Stele, popularly dated to the early 1200s (and therefore represents one of the oldest extant written historical records), a phrase is found: “… กูได้หมากส้มหมากหวาน อันใดกินอร่อยกินดี กูเอามาแก่พ่อกู …” which is translated, “… when I have obtained any sour/acidic or sweet fruits that were delicious and good to eat, I brought them to my father …”)

The underlined portion reads, “mak som mak wan,” referring to acidic (sour) fruits and sweet fruits. These two juxtaposed poles form a merismic pair to denote all fruits: the sour ones, the sweet ones, and all the other ones in between. And it would be absurd to understand “som” here as strictly referring to citrus fruits or oranges. Even more absurd would be to suggest that the first part refers to fruits with orange color.

Those familiar with the content of this inscription knows that it, especially the first part, is rife with merismic pairs. The well-known and oft-quoted phrase nai nam mi pla nai na mi khao (ในน้ำมีปลา ในนามีข้าว “ … there is fish in the water and rice in the fields …”), which is another clear-cut example of merism to denote how the kingdom was abundant in all things (in other words, we have more than rice and fish), also comes from the Ramkhamhaeng Stele.

For those interested in reading the English translation of the stele, go here. But for the purpose at hand, suffice it to say that calling kaeng som an orange sour curry is, to put it mildly, inadvisable.


[2] Well, everyone except Thai restaurants outside the kingdom, that is. Kaeng som is one of not many dishes that are ubiquitous in the truest sense of the word in the motherland; it’s routinely made at home, commonly found at street food stalls, and almost always served at any sit-down restaurants specializing in traditional Thai dishes. Yet, interestingly enough, Thai sour curry is found on the menus of Thai restaurants overseas not nearly as commonly as the other curries.

The question is: which comes first? Do non-Thais not know about and appreciate kaeng som, because their local Thai restaurants don’t serve it? Or could it be that Thai restaurants have tried in the past to introduce this dish, but a lukewarm response has forced them to pull it off the menu? Regardless, I hope that will change soon.


[3] What’s funny about Southern kaeng som is that the Centralites, in order to prevent confusion, have taken the liberty of assigning the name, “Kaeng Lueang” (แกงเหลือง – literally “yellow curry” which is not the same as the so-called yellow curry found on the menus of Thai restaurants in the US. But that’s for a different time and a different post) to this slightly-different version of sour curry due to the yellow hue of the turmeric. Yet, ask any Southerners who are still connected to their roots what they call the curry which Centralites refer as “kaeng lueang,” and they’ll tell you that it has been and will always be “kaeng som” to them. This, incidentally, provides further support for “som” meaning “sour” and having absolutely nothing to do with the color.

30 Responses to Thai Sour Curry (Kaeng Som – แกงส้ม)

  1. Smorg June 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Wow. Great write up (as usual)! I used to hate this soup with a passion when I was in Thailand for a few grade school years in the late 80’s, but then I remember it as the thin watery mostly disgusting sour stuff (and it usually smelled awful, too). The only time I could tolerate it was when it was served with kai jiew (egg foo yong?) and steamed rice. Guess I’d have to try the thick homemade version before making final judgment on the dish now, ay? :o)

    Thanks for the very educating read!

  2. Anh June 13, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    wow! What a post! I have to come back and read thoroughly, but this is so awesome! I respect your passion and knowledge!

  3. Rasa Malaysia June 13, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Bravo Leela for writing such a long and informative post. The recipe is quite similar to Malaysian Assam Pedas, except that we use pineapple, lemongrass, and polygonum leaves (laksa leaves), and torch ginger flower to flavor the soup. For the fish, we mostly use whole mackerel. Your post just reminds me that I have to make the Malaysian equivalent ASAP. 🙂

  4. MMD June 13, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    I thought it was strange that you dedicated so much space in the post addressing the orange issue, because I’d never heard anyone refer to gang som by that name. So I searched for “sour orange curry” on google and…. whoa.

    Holy crap. What the hell?

  5. Tangled Noodle June 13, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    Outstanding post! I would have enjoyed reading what goes into or how to make this dish that is quite new to me. However, the detailed consideration of what it was, should be and commonly is, adds so much more. I appreciate your explanation of the name – as a non-Thai, I would never have known about the issues regarding the use or intended meaning of the word ‘som’. However, I am similarly – ooo, what’s the word: concerned? annoyed? – about how the name of a dish can be misinterpreted to the extent that its origins, history, etc. become muddled.

    I want to try making the paste! I have dried NM hot chilies – wonder if they would work?

  6. Leela June 13, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    TN – Thanks, and, yup, dried NM chiles would work very well.

  7. davidockey June 17, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    I believe the “orange” moniker is just a marketing scheme. People got used to green or red curry. Calling the others by similar names makes them easier to imagine for people who haven’t tried it before. It’s from the differnces between things that we can easily “understand” them or at least create an image that we are comfortable with. I’ve seen it called by a few names and I would have to say, when I was less knowledgable about Thai food, orange curry sounded less daunting than sour curry. After all, in western cuisine (America at least) sour isn’t as a prized flavor as in the east.

  8. Thip June 19, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    What a great post, Leela. Kaeng Som is one of my favorite soups. Like you said, it’s hard to find a good Kaeng Som in the States. When using the commercial paste, I found that the taste is totally odd. I should try making the curry paste myself in the future. Thanks for the recipe!!

  9. Temple Of Thai June 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Leela, I am in Southern Thailand tonight and we just had homemade southern-style Sour Curry – our preferred way is soured with Sour Pineapple (unfortunately not widely available). Normally the household recipe is made with small sea fishes cut in half through the torso. Unfortunately the power went out before we got to the final dish, otherwise I could post you a photo! But we have a sort of American version of our family recipe here:

  10. June 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Neither hypothesis in [2] makes much sense.

    More obvious is the Thai restaurant’s unwillingness to serve a thin curry, when done right, that can be so pungent. One can imagine the very first “Centralite” restaurant op in America, thinking the liberal use of fish paste, fish sauce, boiled fish, etc., would turn Americans off. It’s only natural the most popular curries, in the States, are coconut milk based.

    Let’s not kid ourselves and simply admit a bowl of left over kaeng som (even the weakass thin ones from a take-out joint) can stink a fridge to no end. Tasty? To us now, yes. Smells like arse to Caucasians in Kansas City? Probably still does.

  11. Admin June 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    sinosoul – I think we’re saying the same thing. It’s either 1. a restaurant preemptively (and, according to you, wisely) excludes something they think will be repulsive to most Americans, or 2. a restaurant has tried in the past to bravely test the market with this curry and taken it off the menu when realizing it was a bad move.

    Then again there appears to be a group of American diners who walk into a Thai restaurant in the US expecting to get exactly the kind of food people in Thailand eat. They often get offended when the restaurant hesitates to do so or asks them whether they’re sure they can handle it.

    Must be hard for a restaurant to please both the this-smells-like-butt group (which makes up the majority of their clientele) and the don’t-you-imply-I-can’t-handle-real-Thai-food-you-jerk group (which, though much smaller, is very vocal).

    • Malee September 22, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      From what I learned, working at restaurants and in school earning my restaurant mgmt. degree is that you really need to commit one way or the other – dummy-down to the American farang palate, or be authentic to the origin food culture as much as possible – otherwise, you merely accomplish being mediocre altogether for not having a clear menu concept.

      It is of course more common to play to comfort levels than to test an area’s sensitivity to novelty. Be brave or be safe, but not both. The brave can fill a niche as long as there is nobody else in town who can fill it better. Word gets around about what to expect. Authenticity can work, if you’re in an area with enough of a well-traveled or gastronomically adventurous demographic.

  12. Anonymous September 24, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Thanks for this great post! I am currently looking for the recipe for this having tried it recently in Betong, Southern Thailand. I fell in love with it immediately!! But looking for the recipe has been confusing. So you do not lemongrass, bird eye chilly and garlic? I honestly cant remember if I saw lemongrass….. but in some sites they are called for.

  13. Admin September 24, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Anon – No, I don’t thnk lemongrass, garlic, and bird’s eye chilies represent flavors that come to mnd when I think of this dish. Looking around, most recipes don’t call for them. But as is the case with any recipe for a down home dish like this, you’re bound to find variations. Also, this recipe is for central style kaeng som and is quite different from what you might have had in the South.

  14. Ms Sabai November 24, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    It took me two years of living in Thailand to appreciate geng som, but once I did there was noooo stopping me. Hands down my favourite Thai dish. Though having started my Thai life in the south, I always prefer the southern version. I often force my boyfriend to take me to a tiny southern food restaurant near Sirirat hospital to get a southern version, My favourite is with coconut palm tips and pla samlee. I am literally salivating at the thought.
    Amazing post!

  15. Austin April 16, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    It’s interesting how these versions of kaeng som have come to define the dish. I moved to Thailand in 1999 — around the same time when this stuff was becoming popular, I suspect — and it took me years to learn that they were in fact more recent variations. Outside of someone’s home, it’s getting increasingly hard to find a plain old kaeng som.

    Re. your recipe, no krachai? I’ve been told by many people, including Khun Suthon, that the root should be used in any kaeng som that includes seafood or fish.

  16. Admin April 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Austin – Nope. No krachai in this one. Either Auntie T didn’t like it or thought it wasn’t needed. Both of my grandmothers’ versions do contain krachai, though.

  17. Iceteayang October 27, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Thanks for sharing this recipe… I tried kaeng som with cha om during my previous Bangkok trip in a restaurant called kuakling pak sod at thong lor…super spicy and delicious! I missed the dish since then! Lucky I am going back Bangkok end of coming November.

  18. Korteztk February 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    I really enjoy the detail in this blog post, and I really want to make this curry because I love everything that’s sour in food, and it appears I’ve hit the jackpot here. I just think I need more practice, first.

    So many dishes, so much research to read and consider. It’s very interesting.

  19. Aimee June 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I have never had watered down Kaeng Som. When I lived in Thailand our cook would make it and it was never watery, thank goodness! IT was one of my favorite dishes to eat. I also have never found Kaeng Som at any Thai restaurants here in the states. I will just have to resort to making it myself. Thank you for the recipe and the great post! Oh, how I miss Thai food.

    • Jay September 2, 2014 at 2:54 am #

      Just an awesome recipe and such an insight to the nuances !!!

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading, making and savouring the soup.

      I have seen that sometimes a little pounded Krachai is also used. Is that appropriate?

      Adds a dash of freshness to the soup.

  20. Malee September 22, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Here is my “dirty little secret,” busy-mom’s shortcut when I want kaeng sohm NOW but have no fish stock prepared (grocery store seafood stock tastes all wrong, so no):

    (>.> )

    ( <.<)

    Instant dashi granules.

  21. Larry Fournillier February 11, 2015 at 5:35 am #

    Great and detailed post! I am planning on going to Southern Thailand later this year, Songkhla to be exact, and I can’t wait to try this recipe. It will be a culinary trip of sorts and I want to experience as much authentic Thai food as possible. Coming from the Caribbean, I’m accustomed to eating hot and very spicy foods and the use of fruits and vegetables in cooking is very similar to yours.

    However, this particular dish is a must try and I will report back upon completion. Thanks again, and I’m now a fan of yours 🙂

  22. Onna August 2, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    You don’t us turmeric root in the paste? I thought it’s a staple?

    • Leela August 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

      In the central sour curry, it’s not.


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