Gaeng som pla – Sour orange curry of sea bass and bamboo

Gaeng som pla – Sour orange curry of sea bass and bamboo

John Chantarasak shares his recipe for gaeng som pla, a sour orange curry of sea bass and bamboo from Southern Thailand. It's spicy, sour and slightly sweet.
  • Cooking:
  • Serves: 2 persons



  1. Step 1

    To make the curry paste, begin by soaking the dried bird's eye chillies in water, until soft - around 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid 
  2. Step 2

    Make the curry paste by pounding all the ingredients (including the drained bird's eye chillies) in a stone pestle and mortar until very smooth. Set aside
  3. Step 3

    Using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut the sea bass into four steaks across the main bone, reserving the head and tail
  4. Step 4

    Bring the stock to the boil then add the head, collar and tail of the sea bass in the stock and simmer until cooked through. Skim the stock as necessary
  5. Step 5

    Remove the poached fish, drain well then flake into the curry paste, discarding the skin. You will need about 50g of poached fish flesh. Gradually work the poached fish flesh into the curry paste until smooth and fully incorporated. This will give the finished curry sauce body and viscosity that it would otherwise be missing
  6. Step 6

    Bring the stock back to the boil then dissolve 2 tablespoons of the curry paste with the hot stock. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind water. It will taste sour, spicy and salty with a very slight background sweetness
  7. Step 7

    Add the sea bass steaks and bamboo to the simmering stock. Continue to gently simmer until the fish is just cooked and the bamboo is softened. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately with steamed rice