Healthy Food

Stomach Nourishing Sweet and Sour Soup


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.

Health Benefits

‘Stomach Nourishing Sweet and Sour Soup’ is a clear, red-brown soup with three distinctive flavors, savory, salty and sweet. Sliced scallions, cilantro, shallots are added to the soup and seasoned with the sour taste of tamarind juice. Protein like fish is often added such as mackerel, mullet, snapper, or tilapia, as it goes well with the spicy soup.

  • ‘Tamarind’ contains anti-oxidants that help strengthen the immune system and help drain the stomach and stimulate e’xcretion*
  • ‘Garlic’ enhances the innate and adaptive immunity.**
  • ‘Shallot’ helps prevent allergies, is an anti-inflammatory and fights off bacteria and viruses.***
  • ‘Pepper’: has anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidants.****
  • ‘Chili’ helps relieve flu symptoms, reduce mucus and phlegm.*****


  • mackerel or sea bass 150 gr
  • chicken stock 1 l
  • tamarind juice 250 gr
  • fish sauce 200 gr
  • palm sugar 250 gr
  • ginger (sliced) 20 gr
  • shrimp paste 20 gr
  • shallot 5 gr
  • coriander root 5 gr
  • white pepper 2 gr
  • spring onion 30 gr
  • red chili (sliced) 5 gr


Pound the chili. coriander root, garlic and pepper together to make the curry paste.

Bring water to the boil in a saucepan and add curry paste.

Flavour using tamarind juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.

Add the fish and cook through.

Remove from the heat and serve.

* Moutia M, et al. Review Article In Vitro and In Vivo Immunomodulatory Activities of Allium sativum L. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2018; Article ID 4984659.
** Russo M, Spagnuolo C, Tedesco, The flavonoid quercetin in disease prevention and therapy: facts and fancies. Biochem Pharmacol. 2012;83(1):6-15.
*** Maurizio R and Cristiana V, Establishing the tolerability and performance of tamarind seed polysaccharide (TSP) in treating dry eye syndrome: results of a clinical study, , 29 March 2007
**** Tasleem F, Azhar I, Ali SN, Perveen S, Mahmood ZA. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of Piper nigrum L. Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine. 2014;7(Suppl 1):S461-S468.
***** Vonne D., Ofelia G., Guillermo O., José P., & Tzayhrí G. (2014). Determination of Capsaicin, Ascorbic Acid, Total Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Capsicum annuum L. var. serrano by Mid Infrared Spectroscopy (Mid-FTIR) and Chemometric Analysis. Journal of the Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry, 57(1): 133-142.