1 Barramundi fish, or other ocean water fish – My fish was approximately 600 grams, but you could add more or less as you please.
1.5 – 2 liters of water
1 green papaya – mine was about 700 grams in total (used the whole papaya)
1 tbsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp salt, or the amount to taste
10 – 15 tbsp lime juice – (used the juice from about 20 limes)
For the curry paste:
60 grams bird’s eye chilies , preferably the lighter colored ones, but any will do -(used over 100 chilies for this recipe)
1 head garlic
20 grams turmeric, 2 – 3 finger sized pieces
300 ml water – to blend with the curry paste ingredients
For the curry paste:
Begin by making the curry paste. Peel the stems off all the chilies, then add them to a blender or food processor.
Peel the garlic, and shallots, and cut the turmeric into pieces, and toss them all into the blender.
Add about a cup of water, and blend for a few seconds until pureed.
NOTE: Be warned that turmeric stains, so don’t use a nice blender!
For the soup:
To prepare the green papaya, first peel the outer green skin, rinse it in water to remove the sap, then shave off thin bite sized pieces of papaya so you have thin wedges. Cut the papaya like you’re whittling a piece of wood. Then set aside.
For the limes, slice and squeeze them into a separate bowl.
Put a big soup pot on the stove and turn to medium heat, and add in all the curry paste you just blended.
Add 2 liters of water to the soup, using some of the water to rinse out the blender, and add to the pot.
Add the shrimp paste, and stir the soup to make sure the shrimp paste fully dissolves.
Take the green papaya, add it all to the soup, stir quickly, then put the cover on to bring to a boil.
Once the gaeng som is boiling, gently add the pieces of fish.
But here’s the Thai Aunty trick – don’t stir the soup until the fish is fully cooked. If you stir the soup when the fish is still raw, your soup will taste fishy (according to Thai cooking practice).
Boil the soup, without stirring, for about 5 – 8 minutes.
When the fish is finished cooking, you can stir gently, and then turn off the stove pretty quickly so you don’t overcook the fish.
Once your heat is off, it’s time to season with salt and lime juice. Add some at first, stir gently, taste test, then add more if needed.
Taste test until your gaeng som is sour, slightly salt, and extremely spicy.