Thai Sour Soup With Fried Fish And Vegetables – Kaeng Som Pae Sa

Fish dishes are common menu items in restaurants in Thailand and Kaeng Som is one of the most popular fish dishes. It is a sour soup or stew dish made with fish or shrimps, with vegetables/fruit such as carrots, radishes, cauliflower, unripe papaya, bamboo shoots and sometimes pineapple. The tamarind sauce makes the soup sour. This dish is traditionally served in a hotpot. It is sometimes called yellow curry because of its color but unlike the typical Thai curry, this dish does not use coconut milk. The version of this dish in the South is extremely spicy while the milder version is generally served in the Central region.

This recipe uses whole fish fried until crisp and golden brown. The fish is placed on a bed of water mimosa then the tamarind-curry based soup is spooned over the fish. This rich, sour and spicy dish paired with hot steaming rice is perfect for the cold season.


• 1 large whole fish, about 2 lbs
• 1 cup of water mimosa
• 1 cup of cauliflower florets
• ½ cup of sliced carrots
• ½ cup of sliced radish
• 4 tbsp tamarind juice
• 1 tbsp palm sugar
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• 3 cups of water
• palm oil for deep-frying

Curry Paste:

• 5 dried red chilies, soaked in water
• 3 tsp fingerroot
• 15 cloves garlic
• 6 shallots
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tsp shrimp paste


This recipe takes about 30 minutes to make. Serves 3 to 4.

Cut slits on both sides of the fish.
Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Place on a wire rack to drain excess oil and set aside.
Drain soaked dried red chilies.
Using a pestle, pound chilies with salt in a mortar until smooth.
Add shallots and continue pounding.
Add garlic cloves and pound.
Add finger roots and pound.
Add shrimp paste and continue pounding until the mixture is smooth.
Pour water into a pot and boil over high heat.
Add curry paste, carrots, radish, and cauliflower.
Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
Add fish sauce, tamarind juice, and palm sugar.
Simmer for another minute and remove from heat.
Spread water mimosa on a serving dish and put the fried fish on top.
Pour vegetable soup on top and sides of the fish.
Serve immediately.

Ideas And Tips:

• For the fish, you can use red snapper, flounder, striped bass, grouper, rainbow trout, barramundi, tilapia, perch, carp or catfish. The skin of the fish will shrink while frying so cutting slits on both sides of the fish will prevent the fish from curling while cooking. It will also help ensure that the fish is fully cooked through and when you pour the sauce on it, the fish will easily soak up all its flavors.

• You may also use a food processor, blender or spice mill to make the curry paste.

• You may add slices of bamboo shoots, unripe papaya, cabbage, long beans or pineapple.

Thai Sour Soup With Fried Fish And Vegetables - Kaeng Som Pae Sa
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