Gang Som Cha-oom Kai
Kang Som translats as the sour curry. The word Som is literally used for something that gives the sour taste. In Thai, Som is also oranges or tangerines. There are two bases of Thai curries, which is a coconut milk base and a water base. Most Kang Som are water base curries, which are lighter and tend to be tangier than most coconut milk base curries.
This particular dish just surfaced in Thai restaurants about fifteen to twenty years ago, I would say. I consider it as a Thai fusion food from the fact that it is a combination of two individual distinctive foods, which is one is Kang Som dish and another one is fried vegetable beaten egg dish, which normally be served separately on the table. Somehow, someone got creative and took a risk putting these two dishes together as one dish and introduced it to people. It becomes a big hit over night. I would die for to know who is the one who created this dish. However,whoever that is, he/she is a real genius because it tastes so good.
I was first introduced to this Kang Som by one of my friend who owns a small, edgy restaurant in Bangkok, and it's become one of my favorite Kang Som I always ask for in the restaurants.
In Thailand this curry is called....Kang Som Cha-om Kai. The original of making this kind of fired beaten egg is to use fresh Cha-om leaves, a type of Acacia family called Acacia pennata, a shrub that is native to Thailand, beaten in with eggs and then fry, called Cha-om Kai, a dish that is usually paired up with spicy shrimp paste dipping (Num-Prik) to eat together. These tiny green leaves have a very strong pungent smell and also health benefits that is good for our body.
I didn't make a trip to a Thai grocery in Chinatown, so I just substituted Cha-om with watercress, which also give a nice texture to fried egg, the only thing missing is that pungent smell, which is, yes, I can live with that.
- 2 tbsp. Thai Kang Som curry paste ( some would label "yellow curry")
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tbsp. concentrated tamarind juice (available in Thai groceries or most Asian groceries)
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. palm sugar
- 3-4 tbsp. oil for frying eggs
- fresh watercress
- 2 eggs
- 6 fresh shrimps (optional)
- 1 cup of dried shrimps, grind them up into fine powder. (optional - it will help to give more body to water base curry - available in Asian markets and groceries)
First Part: Making Fried Egg
1. Wash and rinse watercress thoroughly.
2. Take a hand full of them and put them into beaten eggs. Leave some to put in the curry.
3. Add 1 tsp. fish sauce mix thoroughly
3. Heat up a pan until the oil get very hot ( you can see some smoke coming up)
4. Pour the mixing egg to the hot oil until it is golden and crispy to both sides.
5. Take it out from the pan, rest it on a cookie rack for cooling down.
Second Part: Making Kang Som curry.
1. A pot with water, stir in Kang Som curry paste until the paste and water are incorporate.
2. Bring curry to a boil.
3. Turn the heat to medium and start seasoning with tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar.
4. Put in ground dried shrimp.
* To this point you can gradually adjust the taste by adding more the seasonings if you like. Besides the spicy taste, the taste of Kang Som should be led by sour taste then wrapped with salty and sweet. I usually squeeze a wedge of lime into the curry before serving.
4. Put in fresh shrimps (optional) and the rest of watercress, increase the heat to full boil then turn off the heat.
Fried Watercress Egg
Cut up the crispy egg into small pieces, put them into a serving bowl. Ladle out Kang Som curry to top the crispy eggs. Eat with fluffy steamed rice and fried salty chicken to help balancing the spicy taste of the curry.