Gaeng Som Talay

Savoury Seafood Soup


Gaeng som refers to sour soups and curries that feature prominently in southern Thai cuisine. The soup’s sour note comes from tamarind, an acidic sweet-sourish fruit, and its overall flavour tickles your taste buds with an explosion of all imaginable combinations of sour, sweet, spicy and savoury, and usually features fish or seafood. Authentic southern Thai cuisine can be found near Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, across the street from Ramkanhaeng University. Although turmeric is usually used in this soup to give it its characteristic yellow colour, it is omitted here to produce a clearer-looking soup.


  • 140 g tamarind pulp
  • 6 cups (1.5 litres) water
  • 1 catfish, about 280 g, deboned and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 110 g long beans, cut into 2.5-cm lengths
  • 110 g cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 110 g turnip, peeled and cut into 0.5-cm thick slices
  • 55 g carrot, peeled and cut into 0.5-cm thick slices
  • 110 g pickled mustard, cut into 1.5-cm pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped palm sugar or brown sugar
  • cup (90 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 280 g prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 110 g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped

Chilli Paste

  • 8 dried chillies, seeded, soaked in hot water to soften, then cut into short lengths
  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • 2.5-cm piece dried prawn paste (gapi), roasted and crumbled
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled


  1. Prepare the chilli paste. Combine the ingredients in a blender and process into a fine paste. Set aside.
  2. Mix the tamarind pulp with cup (90 ml) of the water. Strain the juice and discard the seeds and fibre. Set aside.
  3. Bring the remaining water to a boil in a pot. Add the chilli paste and catfish. Boil for 5–10 minutes until the fish is cooked.
  4. Remove the fish and set aside to cool. Shred the flesh and return to the pot.
  5. Add the long beans, cauliflower, turnip, carrot and pickled mustard to the pot. Cook for a few minutes until the cauliflower and carrot are tender.
  6. Add the palm sugar or brown sugar, fish sauce and tamarind juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  7. Add the prawns and squid. Remove from the heat once the prawns and squid turn opaque and are cooked.
  8. Dish out and garnish with spring onion. Serve hot with rice and other dishes.