Spinal cord soup


The pleasant serving dish

This here is a common Isaan dish called dtom saep [ต้มแซบ]. It is a sourish soup, somewhat like tom yam with the main difference in the meat department. Tom yam is generally served with chicken or shrimp as the meat whereas dtom saep is always (as far as I know) with pork or beef. And of course it’s not the pork and beef you would see in a typical western meal. Nope, this meal consists mainly of the parts we would usually throw out: intestines, stomach, liver, and lungs are some of the more common pieces. Occasionally you are rewarded with a real piece of meat. With that said, I do find this soup to be quite tasty and regularly order it when I go out for Isaan. You can also order the dry (haeng [แหง]) version which I will save for a separate post.

In this particular case we ordered a big portion that came in a nice sized serving bowl with a charcoal flame in the middle to keep it hot.  These bowls are frequently used in restaurants, but I’m not really sure why since the soups are always piping hot in the first place.  I always find it a bit of a nuissance since then it forces me to wait longer for the food to cool down.

Another item that made this order somewhat unique is that we managed to get a bunch of vertebrae in the soup. These bones take up a huge amount of space and there is very, very little meat on them, but I guess they add to the flavor of the soup.  It definitely makes for an interesting experience.  Spinal cord soup, anyone?


Some leftover vertebrae

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