There is something to be clarified about sour curry in Thailand; There are two different way to call sour curry in Thailand, which is Gang Som and Gang Lueng. Gang Som is sour curry from the central part of Thailand. Gang Lueng is sour curry from the southern part of Thailand, called by people from other parts of Thailand except people from the South themselves. People in the South call their sour curry Gang Som, there is no Gang Lueng in the South.
People from the rest of the country call sour curry from the South Gang Lueng (yellow curry) because of the yellow color in the curry which come from Turmeric , sour curry in the central part of the country doesn't have turmeric in the ingredient.
So, if you are in central part of Thailand, and you want sour curry with central style cooking, you order Gang Som. If you want the Southern style sour curry with yellow color curry, you order Gang Lueng. Now, when you are in the South and want sour curry, you order Gang Som, what you will get is sour curry with yellow curry, and that's it! There is no Gang Lueng in the South.
When it comes to making Gang Som and Gang Leung, I normally made my own curry paste, since the ingredients of this curry are easy to find, and the best part is I get the fresh taste and fragrant from the herbs, which is better than those getting form the packaged one.
Making your own curry paste
If you have granite mortar and pestle, it's time to get them out and put them to work. If you don't, the food processor will work out fine.
- 3 heads of shallot, choped.
- 1 stalk lemongrass, fine sliced.
- 7 cloves of fresh garlic.
- 2 inches long of fresh or frozen turmeric, cut to small. (available in South East Asian groceries, mostly frozen)
- 10 small dried chillies, or as much as you think you can handle the spicy.
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. shrimp paste.
Head-up!....this process might make you cry because of the shallot, chilies and garlic, so if you don't want to shed some tears, go with the food processor.
Put all ingredients (except shrimp paste) in the mortar and pound them until they become paste then add shrimp paste to this point. Continue to mix until the shrimp paste incorporates with all ingredient.
- 3 tbsp. curry paste
- 2 cups of water
- Fish sauce
- Tamarind water
- Lime juice
(I don't give the exact measurement here because it's' better to gradually seasoning, starts with an equal part of fish sauce and tamarind water, and then build up the taste from there.)
Choose all vegetables you like.
These are some of vegetables that go great with this kind of curry : Bamboo shoot, young small corns, green papaya, Napa cabbages, Chinese broccoli, snow peas, cauliflowers, water spinach, watercress, mushrooms, etc.
1. Dissolve the curry paste in water, put on high heat until it reaches full boil.
2. In go, vegetables, start with the kind that isn't get soft easily. Let it reaches the full boil one more time then start seasoning.
3. Keep building up the taste by gradually add fish sauce and tamarind water. Add the soft vegetables.
4. Taste it...it should lead by gentle sour taste.
5. Turn off the heat, add lime juice, stir to incorporate. To this point, the curry should taste slightly sharp sour after adding lime juice. You can cut the sour taste by adding a bit more of fish sauce, if you like.
Paring this sour curry with some fried fish, chicken or some kind of meats, or stir-fried dishes, and eat with steamed rice is a great way to balance the taste of the whole meal.