Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sour Thai Fish Curry

My dad says he could eat this soup every day!  I'm not sure I'd eat it that much, but I definitely loved it.  The original recipe is much more authentic, so I recommend taking a look at the cookbook, Thai Street Food, if you have access to an Asian market or just to take in the absolutely gorgeous photography.  However, if you're making this curry in rural Ohio like I was, you can still get an absolutely delicious soup without hard-to-find ingredients.  The only tough one we did end up finding was tamarind water (tamarind paste mixed with water and strained before measuring), but you could substitute lime juice here if you cannot find it.  For the chilies, use any dried chilies you can find - we could only find chilies that were labeled "Mexican" but they worked just fine.  Add some dried red pepper flakes at the end if the curry doesn't end up being spicy enough for your taste.  I loved making this recipe because it was a good reminder that if you start with good ingredients, you'll probably end up with something really delicious even if it isn't totally authentic.  Plus, it was really interesting to learn the new technique of working with dried chilies and making a curry paste. 

Sour Thai Fish Curry (adapted from Thai Street Food by David Thompson)
Serves 6

Sour Orange Curry Paste
8 dried long red chilies (use your best judgment here)
Generous pinch salt
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3-4 small poached shrimp
About 1/3 cup poached white fish (see below)

6 cups stock or water
Generous pinch salt
2-3 shallots, peeled and quartered
Generous pinch sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
5 T tamarind water (see note above)
16 ounces white fish fillet (such as orange roughy), cut into bite-sized pieces
4-5 baby bok choy, rinsed well, leaves separated, and roughly chopped

Steamed rice and lime wedges, to serve

1. Make the paste.  Pinch the stalks off the chilies and remove their seeds.  Soak in hot water until soft, 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, poach the shrimp and about half a fillet of the fish in simmering water until cooked through.
2. Drain the chilies and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Add to a small food processor along with the salt until the mixture forms a paste.  Add the remaining curry paste ingredients in the order listed, reducing each to a fine paste before adding the next, adding just a bit of water as necessary.
2. Bring the stock or water to a boil with salt.  Add the curry paste, rinsing out the food processor to make sure all is used, and simmer one minute before adding the shallots.  Simmer 3-4 minutes, then season with sugar, fish sauce, and the tamarind water.  Add the fish and greens and continue to simmer until everything is cooked.
3. The curry should be sour, salty, and a little hot – adjust with fish sauce, tamarind water, and/or chili powder as needed.  Serve with steamed rice and lime wedges.

I'm submitting this recipe to Kitchen Bootcamp: Soups.  


  1. I absolutely love Thai food and soups especially. Have you ever found lemon grass? You don't actually eat it, but slice it and put it in the broth and it kicks up the broth with just an extra bit of acidity - so good!

    have a great weekend!

  2. I've heard great things about that book and I love tangy foods both sweet and sour. This looks fantastic!