Orange Curry and Thai Street Food

Thai orange curry

This dish is from David Thompson’s cookbook, Thai Street Food which was a gift for me from Peter after one of his business trips to Bangkok. The book is full of beautiful photos of Thai street scenes and classic eats alongside thorough descriptions.

It brings back wonderful memories for me from my travels to Chiang Mai and Bangkok (and soon, Krabi!).

Thai Street Food - New Kid on the Wok

Food Stall in Chiang Mai

Street food in Thailand is cheap, tasty and although the rustic stands might not pass Western dining inspections, let’s be honest, much in Asia wouldn’t— and we ain’t dead yet! 🙂

Thai Street Food - New Kid on the Wok

Freshly grilled goods

Thai Street Food - New Kid on the Wok

Floating Street Food

Thai Street Food - New Kid on the Wok

Eyeing the culinary delights floating by

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for David Thompson’s Sour Orange Curry of Fish. I have never tried this dish during my travels and you likely won’t see it on your local Thai takeout menu.

But that’s a damn shame, because this curry is delicious. It is full of vibrant flavors and is hot and spicy with just a hint of sour tangy-ness. It is quite a common street food dish throughout Thailand because of how easy it is to make.

The original curry recipe includes tamarind but I used an easy substitute of lemon juice and for the Asian greens, I added bok choy (Chinese cabbage). There are a variety of fish fillets or seafood you could use for this orange curry of fish including catfish, sea bass, prawns, mussels or snapper but I stuck with a few hearty salmon steaks.

Thai orange curry

Tip: salmon steaks are usually cheaper than fillets and they are surprisingly easy to de-bone yourself– the steaks at the local Hong Kong wet markets generally come with the pins removed and all you need to do is cut out the center spine.

I was surprised by how simple this dish was to make, considering how admittedly complicated (and exotic) some of the dishes in this cookbook seem to be. There are a few of David’s recipes that I think I’d really have to hunt down the ingredients for even though I am in the region.

So rest assured this recipe is tried and tested by even a simple home cook like myself and ready to be served in your home too.

Thai orange curry

Orange Curry with Fish

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Orange Curry with Fish

adapted from David Thompson's Thai Street Food - Sour Orange Curry of Fish


  • Curry Paste
  • 4 long red chillies
  • 4 dried small red chillies
  • 2-3 bird's eye chillies (optional - I used 2 and it was plenty hot)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped red shallots
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • Dish
  • 3 cups of fish stock or water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 red shallots, peeled
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 oz (200 g) salmon fillet cut into 1 1/4 inch pieces (3cm)
  • large handful of bok choy


  1. Add curry paste ingredients individually to mortar, grinding into a paste using pestle (alternatively used a blender, but avoid adding too much water to the paste)
  2. In a deep pan or a large pot, boil stock or water with salt over high heat
  3. Reduce heat to medium - high
  4. Scraping mortar or blender completely, add curry paste to the boiling water
  5. Add shallots and simmer for 3-4 minutes
  6. Stir in sugar, fish sauce and lemon juice
  7. Add fish and simmer to cook
  8. When fish is nearly cooked, add in greens and continue simmering until fish is cooked through
  9. Serve with rice
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