Kaeng Som (Thai Southern Style Sour Curry)

READY IN: 30mins


  • Curry Paste Ingredients
  • 25
    small Thai red chili peppers
  • 15
    arbol chilies, dried
  • 8
    garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1
    tablespoon fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 1
    teaspoon salt
  • 1
    tablespoon shrimp paste
  • Rest of The Soup
  • 1
    cup pineapple (sour slightly unripe)
  • 1
    cup sour papaya
  • 1 12
    cups fresh white fish, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1
    tablespoon fish sauce (may add more)
  • 4
    limes, halved (may add less)
  • 1
    tablespoon palm sugar (may add more) or 1 tablespoon brown sugar (may add more)


  • Using a mortar and pestle (food processor), grind all of the curry paste ingredients together very, very finely (it is important to do this well so you won’t happen upon any large bits of chili in your soup!).
  • Put the curry paste aside and prepare the soup ingredients. Thinly slice sour, slightly unripe pineapple. Dice the sour papaya into 1 inch cubes. Clean and cut some fish into bite-size pieces until you have about 1-1 1/2 cups.Set all of these aside. For your mise en place, you’ll need a bottle of fish sauce, 4 sliced limes ready for squeezing, and some sugar.
  • Bring about 4 cups of water to the boil, add about half of the curry paste and stir and simmer until the broth is fragrant. Add more curry paste if necessary, but don’t add it all at once as it may be too much! Add the pineapple and the sour papaya. Simmer until they begin to soften, 3-4 minutes, and taste the curry. The pineapple and papaya should add a slightly sweet and sour flavor to the broth.
  • Squeeze a few limes’ worth of lime juice into the broth until you reach a tolerable state of sourness. Remember, it is called “sour” curry, so there should be a definite sour taste, followed by spicy, salty and sweet. Add some fish sauce if it isn’t salty enough.
  • Add your fish. Simmer until the fish is just done, 2-3 minutes, remove from heat, and you’re done! Serve with rice.