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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Whats the Difference Between Thai Curry and Thai Soup?

Green Curry
Before I came to Thailand when I heard the word curry, I would always think of a creamy coconut milk based sauce filled with spices, a choice of meat, and maybe some herbs tossed in to make it look pretty.
Does this ring a bell?
Soup on the other hand, was a watery dish, typically not including too many spices, and filled with a combination of usually vegetables and some kind of meat.
I used to think a curry and soup were different by the spices they used and even the texture or thickness.
It wasn't until I came to Thailand and learned more about Thai food and the process of preparing Thai food, that I learned about the one fundamental difference.
To break down the difference between Thai curry and Thai soup, we have to begin with the two Thai words:
Gaeng (แกง) - Roughly translates to curry. Some examples:
  • Gaeng keow wan (sweet green curry แกงเขียวหวาน)
  • Gaeng massaman (massaman curry แกงมัสมั่น)
Tom (ต้ม pronounced more like dtome) - Tom does not just mean soup, but it really meansboil, and in English terms it refers to something that resembles a soup. Some examples:
  • Tom yum (tom yum ต้มยำ)
  • Tom saeb (sour Isaan soup ต้มแซ่บ)
  • Tom kha (coconut milk soup ต้มข่า)
So what's the difference between a gaeng and tom?
That's the answer.
In Thailand a curry always begins with a curry paste, which is a blend of herbs and spices (lemongrass, garlic, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, galangal etc.), all pounded into a buttery paste using a mortar and pestle. From there, it can be mixed with meats and vegetables and either with coconut milk or water to form the base.
It can be thick and rich or it can be watery.
Traditional Thai curries in fact don't contain coconut milk at all, they are water based curries. Coconut milk in curries came under influence of India (I'll share more about the history of curry later on).
Let's move on to tom:
A tom in Thai, which relates more to a soup definition, is a boiled dish where the flavor comes from aromatic herbs (lemongrass, garlic, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, galangal etc. - notice a similarity?) - but they are NOT pounded into a paste like a gaeng - but instead, just sliced and boiled to release aromatic flavors.
So after eating gaeng and tom for some time while living in Thailand, one day it finally dawned on me:
The difference between a curry and a soup does not have to do with the spice or ingredients (necessarily), but it has everything to do with the cooking process.

Geang Som
One of the easiest examples I can think of to explain the difference between a Thai curry and Thai soup, are two southern Thai dishes that I eat frequently at home: gaeng som (sour curry) and tom som (sour soup). 
By English definition we could probably describe them both as soup, because they are both watery. 
But in Thailand, even though they contain relatively the same ingredients, the cooking process is completely different.
Gaeng som (แกงส้ม pictured above)
The basic ingredients in gaeng som are turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, and chilies all pounded into a paste, then mixed with water, fish, choice of vegetable etc. 

Tom Som
Tom som (ต้มส้ม pictured above)
The basic ingredients in tom som are turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, and chilies all sliced, then mixed with water, fish, choice of vegetable etc.
The difference is either paste (gaeng) or no paste (tom).
Part of eating Thai food is learning about Thai food and the process of what goes into the cooking!

Top posts of the month - June 2015

Blue Elephant
When I was in Phuket a few months ago, Ying and I had a meal at Blue Elephant in an elegant colonial mansion. Fantastic high-end food and a lovely atmosphere.

Paknam Krabi Seafood
Paknam Krabi Seafood is a Halal seafood restaurant in Krabi town. It's a good place to eat fresh seafood.

Premium Food Guides

If you're interested in learning more about eating and ordering authentic Thai food, check out my premium food eBook guides.

Let me know if you have any questions about Thai food, I'd love to hear from you. Just click "reply" to this message.

    - Mark Wiens (มาร์ค วีนส์)

Useful links:  Resources I Use  |  Food Guides  |  Thai Recipes
P.S. Also, I just wanted to let you know, the "Eat More Tom Yum" t-shirts are on sale. Click here to get yours now!


Monday, June 22, 2015

happy you will be at the happy Fish Pub

at the Happy Fish Pub / Bistro you will have a fun, funky night. Room for all your friends with seating for about 200 inside and out.  Sit outside and watch the passing festivals at Asiatique Riverfront Tourism mall it's high activity, with over 1500 stalls there are countless Bars, Restaurants. Night Bazaar markets, Entertainment centres.

Inside the Happy Fish home is another 200 + seats and in one corner you can enjoy as live Thai bands playing international mix as well as the local stuff to pick up the pace and make it fun OR in the other corner is a mouth watering display of delicious ice creams.
Stars: 4.5
Seating:  outside 200   - inside 200, live music

Our group of four (2 Aussie and 2 Thai) tried 4 dishes and shared (Thai style). The photo below is the Seafood Platter which is so tempting, however our popular choice was the Smoked Duck Salad - photo.

after your dinner take in the sights, the night bazaar markets are quality yet lowe prices and you must visit the enormous Ferris wheel for a photo op or jump on for a ride (about 300bt pp)

Asiatique Riverfront is enormous, some 1500+ stalls spanding an area of approx three (3) football fields.  Free shuttle ferry ride from the nearby BTS (skytrain) station.  This is a must do for visitors for any size group.  The location is also home to "Muay Thai live," a theatre high performance show as well as the world renown Calypso ladyboy cabaret show.


  • Website
  • Map location
  • Social Media links
  • Video
  • Photo album

 Click image to expand or see live Longdo map link in the Thaibis directory page link above

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oskar bar Bistro Bangkok is the pick of the parade

Opened in March 2011, claiming immediate success and never looked back. Located in Sukhumvit Soi 11, the premiere nightlife zone of Bangkok, the Soi is only 1 km long but packed with the trendy and fashion, culture and infusion, not to mention sophisticated nightclubs.

Photo album in Thaibis directory link below

OSKAR Bistro adds new flare to the area with it’s own style of casual yet sophisticated dining and drinks.  No doubt the French influence of the partners/managers contributes to the successful execution of this formula- and OSKAR with it’s “je ne sais quoi” is attracting a good crowd of mostly younger expat executives, together with some tourist visitors and locals.  

video - external link

Stars: 4.5
Ground Flr: Balcony 30, inside 10 tables 6 booths + bar stools 20
1st Flr: Balcony: 40, inside: tables / booths for 60
DJ music 

The immediate popularity of OSKAR Bistro is testament to the largely unsatisfied demand in Bangkok for this style of  venue. The clever blending of a casual bistro style eatery, with a stylish bar environment, provides the more discerning patrons in Bangkok with an ideal place to have an early evening cocktail, meet friends for dinner, or to enjoy some pre-clubbing libations. 



  • Website
  • Map location
  • Social Media links
  • Video
  • Photo album

The immediate area is complimented with  Bars, Hotels, Restaurants and clubs, see street savvy Sukhumvit Soi 11

Suk Soi 11 is arguably the hottest, most popular family rated nightlife zones in Bangkok