In Thai, the word “tom” refers to boiling, while “yum” refers to the spicy and sour flavors, so “tom yum” basically means “hot and sour soup”. There are actually many different kinds of Tom Yum soup, such as Tom Yum Pla (ต้มยำปลา), which uses fish, or Tom Yum Gai (ต้มยำไก่), which uses chicken. However, Tom Yum Goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) is probably the most famous, and is certainly the most familiar and popular of these soups outside of Thailand. I hope one you’ve tried this recipe though, you’ll be inspired to branch out and try cooking one of the other delicious versions of Tom Yum and expand your culinary horizons.
This recipe serves 6.
- 16 raw, unpeeled jumbo shrimp
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 3 crushed lemongrass stalks, outer leaves discarded and ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, slightly bruised
- 5 shallots, peeled and crushed
- 6 to 8 red bird’s eye chilies, whole and slightly bruised
- 3/4-inch piece of galangal or ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 7 ounces oyster or straw mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons nam prik pao
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 7 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar (jaggery) or soft light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tomatoes, skinned and cut into quarters
- handful cilantro leaves, to serve
1. Using a pair of poultry sheers, trim off the feelers, rostrum (the sharp pointy bit just in front of the eyes), legs, and sharp part of the tail from each shrimp. Make a slit along the back of the shrimp with a sharp knife and pull out the black vein with the tip of the knife or your fingers (note- you may find this easier to do if you use those poultry sheers to cut open the back part of the shell and then use the knife to devein the shrimp). Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Pour the chicken stock into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the lemongrass, fresh lime leaves, shallots, chilies, and galangal; cook about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the shrimp to the pan, cover and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through.
3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook 2 minutes, then stir in the nam prik pao, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and salt. The broth should taste sour, slightly salty and sweet. Add more lime juice, if you like, to adjust sourness of broth. Tip in the tomatoes, bring back to a boil, then remove pan from heat.
4. Discard lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and galangal slices. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.
last updated August 17, 2023