Thai street food : Tom saap (Isaan spicy sour pork rib soup)


The eastern region of Thailand, known as Isaan (sometimes spelled Isan) is the home of so many great dishes, most of my favourite Thai foods – and a lot of the things you’ll see posted on these pages – come from this area.

In isaan, chilli is a key flavour and this soup is full of flavour and spice.

The ribs are cooked down to create as stock with lemongrass, garlic, chilli, shallots and galangal which is a large part of this dish. After some time of stock development, more ingredients are added including mushrooms, tomatoes, lime leaves and finally dried chillies and lime juice.

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

The soup is a thin and translucent.  Watery, but salty, spicy and sour at the same time, with soft flaky meat which falls of the bone and chunky slices of mushrooms. It packs a far bigger punch than it looks like it’s capable of.

Tom sap goes great with other Isaan staples such as sticky rice (khao niao) mince pork salad (laab) papaya salad (som tam or tam mak hung) and grilled chicken (gai yang)

Phrases worth knowing

mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Mai sai prik  Khap – no chilli please (khap is only for males, females use ‘khaa’ )
Sai tung – take away  (literally means put in bag)
Pai sed –  when ordering it means the large size, or special – the difference is often around 10 baht on a street cart .
Tow rai? – how much.
Arroy! – delicious


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