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Friday, January 15, 2010

Tom Pak Gaad Dong - Sour Mustard green soup

ต้มผักกาดดอง Preserved Sour green Mustard broth

Tom Pak Gaad Dong is normally made with Pork - belly pork (called Hmoo Saam Chan หมูสามชั้น in Thai, which means "three storied pork") or Pork Ribs (called See Krong Hmoo ซี่โครงหมู in Thai).It is a very tangy soup with a salty sour taste; easily paired with either boiled rice or rice soup (ข้าวต้ม). It is ideal for when you have a hangover too or a bad stomach (i.e. constipated) , as the sour taste will liven the taste buds of the person hung over and also loosens any food blocking the intestine. This soup is perhaps also an interesting alternative for those visiting Thailand who do not like spicy food. Thai food is in general very hot and spicy, but there are many recipes which are not spicy (not all Thai people like spicy food either, so even Thailand has mild food alternatives).It can also be made with mince, or as a vegetarian alternative with bamboo or bitter gourd.

Left pic; Mustard green in the Galamang. 

You can vary the ingredients according to taste
Pickled sour mustard greens 500 grams
Porkribs and belly pork 250 grams
Light soya sauce (3tbspn) or stock cube
Garlic cloves (5 cloves - optional)
Ground peppercorns (1 tbspn)
Sugar to taste(about 1 tbspn)
water (2 liters)

Methods of Preparation;
Tom Pak Gaad is very easy to make - the simplest methos uses just mustard green, light soya sauce, pork, sugar and water. The second variation uses  stock cube, garlic and peppercorns too.

The Mustard Green; You can either buy this on the fresh markets where you will find it in plastic tubs (called "Galamang" - กะละมัง in Thai), or you can buy the more hygienic looking one packed in factory sealed plastic bags as seen in the below pic.

So, lets begin now to prepare the Soup; Take the mustard green and rinse it by putting it in a bowl of fresh water - repeat this twice in order to remove any eventual unwanted things (such as grit or small snails, don't forget this veg is like lettuce which sometimes gets little creatures stuck between the leaves).

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Don't take any notice of the lemons on the side of the tray - they were used for another purpose (to make Nam Prik). Once you have cleaned the mustard green you can slice it into shreds.

In this recipe we will use both hmoo sam chan (belly pork), AND see krong (ribs); Arrange them in preparation for cooking.

Remember that the garlic and pepper in the previous pic or the onion in the above pic are optional - use them if you wish, or not if you don't wish to. I personally like to add the garlic and the pepper, but not the onion. Add the garlic and pepper at the same time as the pork meat if you wish to use these ingredients.

Bring the water to boil in a pan (add a stock cube if you wish to, if not then use three tablespoons of light soya sauce), and  simmer the pork ribs first  on a medium flame, until the meat becomes tight around the bone.

Then add the belly pork and simmer a little longer, lowering the flame.

Whilst the meat is simmering, a froth will gather on the surface; clean this off with a skillet or spoon, as it doesn't look nice and will also make the soup bitter. Once the pork meat is cooked and tender, add the sour pickled mustard greens

Simmer for a while and taste the broth - it should be nice and salty, with a slightly oily film from the pork fat and the ribs, and have a slight sweetness too - now would be time to add a little sugar if needed.
Some people like to add some bacon meat to this dish whilst cooking (recommended) .
Now you can serve it. This soup is often used as a mild accompaniment to dry fried spicy dishes as a cooling agent and to balance out the dryness of fried food on rice.

If you have a hangover and can't taste your food it is a great remedy; the sourness and saltiness will give you a real zing on your tongue, and bring back your appetite. The sourness will help to get rid of the headache due to dehydration. The Chinese in Singapore and malaysia have a very similar dish to this called "Bakuteh" The origins of Tom Pak Gaad actually come from Thai Chinese too. This is the reason for its non spiciness, as Thai Chinese food is milder than Thai food in general. I hope to soon publish some more less spicy Thai Food recipes for those who wish to enjoy Thai food but cannot withstand the chilli.
Image source;
Notes; Pak Gaad refers to many kinds of cabbage or lettuce, such as; Pak Gaad Khaw ( ผักกาดขาวChinese white cabbage), Pak Gaad Khaw Plee ( ผักกาดขาวปลี Pak Choi),  Pak Gaad Khiaw Gwang Dtung ( ผักกาดกวางตุ้ง a sweet spinachy cabbage) and Pak Gaad  Farang ( ผักกาดฝรั่ง lettuce)


  1. Hi! How are you?? Long time no see. But now your blog looking good narrrr....and I love this "Dtom Jeud Pak Gaat Dong Gap Gra-dook Moo"
    See you around..;)

  2. I think I am using a bad brand of sour mustard b/c I tried making this soup and it wasn't sour at all. Came off sort of ash/chemically tasting. The mustard I used came from a brand that uses a deer head for its logo. Can't remember its name, but it was the only one at our local market. Maybe I'll try to make this again and see if it turns out better.

  3. Im fine Tan..just very are you?
    Sorry to read Spraters comment.. some pak Gaad is salted and some are picked in vinegar.. you must make suure to get the right one.Also though, some brands dont taste good. I recommend Pigieon brand. I do notice that pure chinese brands are not the same as Thai Chinese, so would recommend a Thai Chinese one

  4. make sure it is sour pickled and not salted.
    also never forget to scrape off the froth on the top of the broth when boiling the pork,as it is bitter.

  5. hmmmm greaaaat recipe and great blog keep it up!


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