Light, tangy, and cooked with a modest amount of heat and any available seafood and fresh vegetables, kaeng som is an elemental and satisfying dish, and this curry from Pok Pok's Andy Ricker is an easy recipe to master. Learn to make the shrimp-enriched broth, which leads with tart, pungent flavors but also delivers measured amounts of sweetness, salt, and spice, and you'll begin to understand the balance in Thai cooking.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews
FOR THE PASTE:
- 30 dried red Thai chiles or chiles de árbol, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 8 oz. raw medium shrimp (about 10), peeled and deveined, tails removed, and roughly chopped
- 1⁄4 cup shrimp paste, preferably Trachang brand
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 6 small Asian shallots or 2 medium regular shallots, roughly chopped
- 1 (4"-piece) krachai, peeled and thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup frozen, defrosted and roughly chopped
FOR THE CURRY:
- 1 cup tamarind concentrate, preferably Thai Fruit brand
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce, preferably Tiparos brand
- 1 tbsp. grated palm sugar
- 1⁄4 lb. long beans or regular green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
- 1 small chayote squash, cut into 2" pieces about 1/2" thick
- 1 small daikon (about 7 oz.), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2"-thick slices
- 1⁄4 small Napa cabbage, sliced 2" thick
- 8 oz. raw medium shrimp (about 10), peeled and deveined, tails removed
- Cooked jasmine rice, for serving
Make the paste: Place chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving 1⁄4 cup liquid. Place chiles in a small food processor with raw shrimp, shrimp paste, salt, garlic, shallots, and krachai; pulse until roughly chopped. Add reserved liquid; purée until smooth. Set 1 1⁄2 cups of paste aside; refrigerate remaining paste for future use up to 2 weeks.
Make the curry: Whisk the 1 1⁄2 cups curry paste with tamarind, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a 4-qt. saucepan or 13" wok until smooth. Whisk in 4 cups water; bring to a boil. Add beans, chayote, daikon, and cabbage and reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 20–25 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat and let curry sit 20–30 minutes for flavors to meld. Serve with jasmine rice on the side.