Tom Yum is probably the most famous of Thai soups and is popular not only in Thailand but in Thai restaurants worldwide. It is a clear, sour soup flavored with fragrant lemon grass, fresh galangal root and kaffir lime leaf. This potent herbal mixture is well known for its medicinal properties.
Tom Yum Goong is the most well-known variety of Tom Yum and makes use of shrimp (in Thai: goong or kung) as the main focus of the dish but you may also use firm white-flesh fish (see Tom Yum Taleh) or chicken (see Tom Yum Gai).
Tom yum or tom yam (Lao: ຕົ້ມຍຳ [tôm ɲam]; Thai: ต้มยำ, [tôm jam]) is the name for a spicy clear soup typical in Laos and Thailand. Tom yum is widely served in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and has been popularized around the world. It is listed at number 8 on World’s 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011.
Commercial tom yum paste is made by crushing all the herb ingredients and stir frying in oil. Seasoning and other preservative ingredients are then added. The paste is bottled or packaged, and sold around the world. Tom yum flavored with the paste may have different characteristics from that made with fresh herb ingredients.
The 1997 Financial Crisis in Asia, which started in Thailand, is sometimes referred to as the “Tom Yam Kung Crisis”
This soup is best appreciated hot and spicy, but if you’re not partial to chili, you can greatly reduce the spice, or even omit the chili altogether and still enjoy a very satisfying and unique Thai style soup.
With this, like any national dish, the versions are countless, and every family and every restaurant will boast a unique and delicious variation around a single theme. The recipe as follows has you de shell the shrimp and boil a quick and easy shrimp stock, but if pressed for time; you can skip this step and simply boil the shrimp whole in the soup, and make the stock and the soup at the same time.
Tom Yam Kung (a brimming big bowl…enough for a large family dinner)
- A bit less than a pound of head and shell on shrimp
- 3 stalks lemon grass
- 3 big slices of fresh galangal (looks a lot like ginger…available at all Asian markets)
- 5-20 smashed Thai bird chilies (use as much or as little as you’d like to)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves (fragrant citrus smelling leaves also available at Asian markets)
- 3 green onions chopped
- 3 Tbls fresh lime juice
- 1-2 Tbls chili paste (also available in Asian markets)
- ¼ cup of cilantro
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- Firstly, peel and de vein the shrimp. Heat a spoonful of oil in a large pot, and when hot add the shrimp shells and 1 chopped stalk of lemongrass; and fry for a minute or so. Add about 2 quarts of water and boil for 20 minutes. Strain.
- Take the reserved stock and add the lemon grass, coconut milk, galangal, the lime leaves and fish sauce, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp, and after about 3 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and turn off the heat. Taste for salt, spice and sour, and add more fish sauce, lime or chili as necessary.
Serve with jasmine rice for a meal alone, or serve this soup as a part of a larger and more intricate Thai meal.
The cooking class at Suwannee is an ideal home-style learning environment that is different from most of the opportunities in the hotels and restaurants in Thailand. Not will you be only watch and participate in the cooking of a number of traditional Thai dishes; also as part of our course we visit a local market to learn about local exotic fruits and vegetables, there is always an abundance of new things to see……and taste!