I guess most of you are familiar with tom yum goong (Thai hot & sour soup) as it's one of the most famous Thai dishes. In fact, it comes up a lot when someone asks me where I'm from and I tell them I'm Thai. People just go, "Ohhhh, Thailand! Tom yum goong!" on me. Most of the time this just makes me laugh because...you know...out of so many things. But when you actually think about it, there's a reason why people associate your country with food. Am I right?
I don't know about you but I really like this Thai hot and sour shrimp soup. I've had people tell me that this soup is overrated or too watery but I think if you cook it well, it's hard for anyone not to like it. Although very thin, it's packed full of flavor. You've got the heat, the sourness and the aroma from the Thai herbs. We love this stuff in our 30+ degree weather but I can tell you it's also perfect for any cold or rainy day and such a great option for those who prefer light soups.
TOM YUM ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS
Making tom yum is actually pretty easy but it requires quite a few ingredients, some of which might be hard to find where you live. In order to make your tom yum authentic, you will need fresh lemon grass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. We also like to use shallots, Roma tomatoes and mushrooms. If you don't have these, it's okay. Though I highly, highly recommend you use them or at least the Roma tomatoes because they help you achieve that natural umami flavor. And really what is tom yum without all the mushrooms!?
WHAT ELSE IS IN TOM YUM?
Apart from the ingredients mentioned above, we use fish sauce, freshly-squeezed lime juice and fresh chilies to get our tom yum to taste right. If you want to adjust the amount of these ingredients from this recipe, you can. Just remember tom yum needs to be salty and sour and that little bit of sugar is not to be omitted because it will help round out the flavor. Oh and the nam prik pao (Thai chili paste) - not a must but absolutely amazing! Try making tom yum with it and you'll never go back!
As far as protein goes, if you're not a fan of shrimp you can use beef, chicken, fish or even squids. Or if you don't want to do any kind of meat at all, you can certainly do a mushroom tom yum. That's totally normal and just as good.
HOW TO SERVE TOM YUM
We normally eat tom yum with rice. If we're eating with family or friends at home, we serve it in a large bowl along with a few other dishes and share. Though, if you prefer, you can serve a single portion in smaller individual bowls. Similarly, if you don't want to have it with rice, that's fine.
Another thing we like to do is sprinkle some chopped culantro over the soup when it's still very warm, right before we serve it. Now, I didn't misspell that word, culantro is a real herb and we use it a lot in the Thai cuisine. However, a lot of Thai people like to sprinkle tom yum with cilantro as well, and since culantro is less common in other parts of the world, you can definitely use cilantro instead.
Last but not least, tom yum is best enjoyed freshly made. When you reheat it, it tends to become saltier and the shrimp and mushrooms become overcooked as well. So you might want to cook this soup in an amount you can finish in one go.
OTHER SOUPS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Tom Yum Goong (Thai Hot & Sour Soup) Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 2 stalks lemon grass
- 10 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 thumb-sized chunk galangal
- 4 shallots
- 5 Thai chilies
- 1 Roma tomato
- 200 grams straw mushrooms whole or cut in half
- 15 shrimp
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 50 ml freshly-squeezed lime juice
- ½ tablespoon Thai chili paste nam prik pao
- 5 leaves culantro
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot.
- While waiting for the water to boil, prepare your herbs.
- - Take the stalks of lemon grass, chop the root end and discard along with the outermost leaf. Then slice every stalk into 1 inch strips.
- - Hand-tear the kaffir lime leaves (this will help release the aroma).
- - Chop the galangal root into slices.
- - Peel the shallots and cut them in half.
- - Lightly pound the chilies on your cutting board or in a mortar.
- Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots and chilies to the water and boil for about 10 minutes.
- Cut the tomato into wedges and the mushroom in half. Chop the culantro. Set aside.
- Prepare your shrimp. Some people like to remove the head, shell and tail and devein while others like to cut the back open to devein and leave everything on. I like to leave just the tail on, but you can prepare your shrimp however you prefer.
- Once the water is boiling, add the tomato, mushroom and shrimp to the pot and cook for a minute or so.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and Thai chili oil. Then, taste test your tom yum and adjust the flavor as needed before turning off the heat.
- Transfer your tom yum to a bowl and sprinkle with chopped culantro. Serve the tom yum with rice.
- Tom yum is best eaten freshly made. You can reheat the soup but it tends to become saltier and the shrimp will be overcooked.
- We normally enjoy this dish with rice. Though you can have it on its own if you want. 😉
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