Sweet and sour fish soup or ‘Tom Som’ is a traditional curry dish that is cooked in households across the country. When presented with the chance to make a fish dish, this curry is often one of the top choices. Whether it’s Yom Yum, Tom Klong or Tom Som. Plus, it has many nutritional benefits from both the herbs used in the curry and the vitamin and protein-packed fish meat.
The ancient Thai people used the word ‘som’ to refer to a sour taste. A curry dish from this era that has a prominent sour taste usually contains sour ingredients such as tamarind, senna, toddy palm vinegar, Taling Pling or roselle flowers.
Tom Som made in each region also has its unique style. For example, the Tom Som of Lao-Isan people is a clear soup with sour leaves or fruits added. In Chanthaburi, there is ‘Liang Som’, which means boiling vegetables or fish for sipping made with very sour fruits such as malacca. It is obvious that Tom Som originally had a rather broad definition and only shared a common characteristic, which was a sour taste.
If we examine the recipe for Tom Som curry paste, we will discover that the paste is exactly the same as the standard Liang curry paste, which includes shallots, peppers, and shrimp paste (dried shrimp, optionally), and this demonstrates the resemblance between the old and newer recipes.