Tom Yum Thai – Hot and Sour Soup

“Tom” = to boil, “Yum” = a category of Thai salads

Thaw the keffir leaves if frozen.

For the chicken breast version, marinate it in fish sauce first and add at the end. And add 4 peeled, grilled shallots, and use dried, briefly heated, broken-up chilis instead of fresh. Also, 2 chopped tomatoes. 2 T tamarind juice too. Let the shallots simmer a while. No chili paste.

  • 4 cups shrimp stock (see recipe), chicken stock, or water. I used a gourmet seafood stock (concentrated paste boiled with 4c water) and it worked out great.
  • 8-12 medium sized shrimp, head and shell on if possible
  • 5-6 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn or cut to bruise them
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, smashed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Cut off the ends and remove the outer skin.
  • 7-8 rounds Thai galangal root, thinly sliced. NOT substitutable for ginger. Fragrance is sort of like parsnips.
  • 3 Thai chilies, or to taste, bruised and cut into large pieces. 3 = nice medium heat.
  • 3-4 Tbsp Thai Namprik Pao chilli paste, optional. Only use w shrimp if it has shrimp paste.
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups oyster or other Asian mushrooms, cut or tear large ones into bite-sized pieces
  • Cilantro for garnish

* It is important to note that the lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves are traditionally left in the soup as garnish, but they are very tough in large pieces and are NOT meant to be eaten in this application. Make sure you let your guests know not to eat the herbs as it can be a hazard or just unpleasant.  Alternatively, you can remove all the herbs after they’re done infusing, before adding the mushrooms.

Add the shrimp stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal and chilies to the pot.  Bring to a boil and let it boil for 3-4 minutes until you can smell the fragrance of the herbs from the pot.

When the soup is done simmering, add the oyster mushrooms, and bring the soup back to a boil.

Once the soup comes back to a boil, add the shrimp and when the soup just starts to bubble again, turn off the heat. Let the residual heat of the soup cook the shrimp completely, another minute or so.

Add the lime juice (a bit at a time, taste to ensure the soup isn’t too sour), fish sauce, chili paste (if using) and sugar to your soup and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. If you’re not using the chili paste, you may find you need to add a bit more fish sauce/sugar. But taste it first!

Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with rice or turn it into a “Kuay Tiew Tom Yum” by pouring the soup over rice noodles for a pho-style meal!

Photography and cinematography by smboro

Tom yum has its origin in Thailand. In recent years, tom yum has been popularized around the world. This dish features fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed red chili peppers.

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