If you visit a roadside noodle stall in Thailand, you will see on the tables a small basket with four jars. These are the condiments that you can add to your noodle soup. Which ones you add and how much is entirely up to you. In some ways it is a bit like being a scientist as you need a certain amount of skills to get the balance right. These condiments give you the four basic flavours: hot, sour, salty and sweet.

Nam som prik is basically sliced chilies (prik) in vinegar (nam som). This obviously gives you your sour taste. Next, is 'prik pon' which is basically dried red chili which is either flaked or ground to a powder. This is the heat. Then, is 'namtaan' which is normal white sugar. Obviously this is the sweet part. Finally, the bottle of 'nam blaa', or fish sauce. Sometimes you will see this in a jar too but mixed with chilies. This version is then called 'prik nam blaa'.