Taste of Thai sour curry

Thai sour curry or “Kaeng som” as it is called in Thailand is presented with shrimps and vegetables แกงส้มกุ้ง

Our second presentation for this year is often  home cooked and found in most parts of Thailand. This curry almost looks like soup and is included as one of a Thai spa meal, with herbs and a variety of local vegetables can be added.  The ‘Kaeng som’ I choose to cook today is with shrimps and vegetables that available all year round. Krachai (aromatic rhizome) will be an important part for this curry I use the frozen one from an Asian store in town. We do home made sour curry paste because fresh is best and this curry paste is not in big market like green curry and red curry paste.

Kaeng som also shows the traditional Thai fondness for using ingredients that can be found near the preparer. A wide choice of vegetables can be used, varying with the season, and flowers, tender shoots, pods, roots and unripe fruit are all viable. Flowers might include common Thai types like dok khae, dok khajawn, rice flowers, or cabbage flowers; shoots might be from the morning glory-like pak boong or water-loving pak krachate; long beans or maroom can be used, as can lotus roots or banana plant runners. Baby gourds or watermelons might also go into the dish.’Kaeng Som’ — Read more… ‘Kaeng Som’, A thai culinary classic  – Bangkok Post.

Home made sour curry paste (yield estimates 150 grams)

30-50 grams Dried red chili (this weight is after seeded), seeded, but if you like the curry tend to a bit more spicy so use a few chili with seeds, to remove seeds easy way by use a scissor to cut chili and remove all seeds, I use Cayane chili with another kind and prefer to use dried orange-red colour chili to make the curry a beautiful colour, after seeded then soak in warm water until soft and drain, pat dry and set aside while prepare other ingredients

5-10 grams shrimp paste

20 grams garlic peeled

40 grams red shallot peel

5 grams lemon grass, peel hard cover and thin slices

40 grams Krachai, peel and slices, I use a frozen one and peel with a peeler when it is not soft is easy.

0.5 tbsp sea salt

Ingredients (for 2-4 serves)

1,000 ml (1 litre or 4 cups) Drinking water

50 grams  Home made sour curry paste

150 grams cauliflowers, cut to bite size

150 grams Turnip (Daikon), peel and cut to bite size

150 grams Carrot, cut to bite size

300 grams Shrimps, deveined, Fresh is best

4 Tbsp Tamarind juice, is from small amount of tamarind paste add a cup of hot water to soft and squeeze by hand to get juice or use a strainer.

1 Tbsp Coconut Palm sugar, grated

1.5 – 2.5 Tbsp Fish sauce

1 Green lime, cut a segment to squeeze just before serve

Note: Sour curry is a curry that is not specific vegetable to be use but there is always have a common using in Thai cuisine are green papaya, cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, long beans, turnip or daikon, morning glory, green mustard and more local vegetables.


1. Make home-made sour curry paste, Granite mortar became an important part of this job. We start to pound with hard ingredients first such lemon grass until fine then add chili with sea salt, at this point be careful your eyes or use eyeglass, it takes time until pestle grind until chili is fine smooth then add shrimp paste, continue pound to mixture is blend well. Add garlic and pound until smooth, add shallot and continue pound until fine and add Krachai last because Krachai contains with water. Blend until smooth as much as you can. We will got sour curry paste. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

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2. Preparation for vegetables are carrot, turnip, cauliflower, shrimps and seasoning are tamarind, lime, coconut palm sugar, fish sauce.

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3. Cooking sour curry: Bring water to a boil then add home made sour curry paste. Let it boil for about 10 minutes, add vegetables and let vegetables to boil then adjust the heat to medium heat and season with palm sugar, tamarind juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust for a sour curry taste that should be spicy with sour and then saltiness..and follow with sweet. Add shrimps to cook, not stir too often then turn off the heat. Before transfer to a serving bowl squeeze some fresh lime juice in a serving bowl to create more sour and aroma.

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Old saying “sour curry” always taste better on the next day. so not worry about left over of sour curry we keep in a refrigerator and re heat again.

My photos the curry is just fresh cook and vegetables and shrimps is cooked but not mushy yet. If you reheat the curry again vegetables and shrimps it will start to soft texture and mushy but it is just a feature. That’s why green papaya is good for sour curry because its texture is not soft so easy.

Anyway lime juice will add at last, this will create aroma sour, just before serve so that sour curry is not affected with a bitter taste. (as the same as to make “tom yum”)

if the sour curry is making you sweat may be ice cream can help 🙂

Food Photograph by Luksana