Tom Yum originated in Thailand and Laos.
Tom Yum originated in Thailand and Laos.

The homemade hot sour soup that packs a punch

THE famous hot sour soup, tom yum goong, is a favourite choice for many who dine in Asian restaurants. While the list of ingredients might seem daunting in today's recipe, it's actually quite easy to make.

You can buy a ready-made paste from the Asian section of most supermarkets, but I like to make this warming soup from scratch; that way I can adjust the different flavours that make it so special. I like it very spicy and sour, so it's easy to just add more lime juice or chilli. Using fresh ingredients seems to make it zing.

Tom yum is traditionally made with prawns, but you can make a tasty version using chicken, beef, fish or pork. I also occasionally add rice vermicelli noodles, or seasonal vegetables like asparagus or snow peas.

Tom yum goong



700ml boiling water

2 stalks lemongrass

3 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, centre vein removed

1-2 small red chillies, sliced or chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

small piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped finely

100g fresh shiitake or button mushrooms, finely sliced

12 medium-large green prawns, shelled and deveined

juice of a fresh lime

2 tbs Thai fish sauce

1-2 tsp nam prik pao (Thai roast chilli paste, optional)

1/3 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 green onion, sliced.


METHOD: Boil 700ml water in a medium saucepan; while water is heating, crush the lower, white portion of lemongrass stalks with the heel of a knife. Add all the stalks to the pot; cover and boil five minutes.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Add garlic, galangal or ginger, chilli, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Simmer for a further five minutes. Add prawns, return to the boil and then turn heat off. Add fish sauce and lime juice to pot and taste, adding more of both if necessary to get a good blend of chilli heat and salty and sour flavours. Remove lemongrass stalks and discard. Serve immediately in large bowls with fresh coriander and green onion.

Variation: You can substitute finely sliced chicken, beef, fish or pork for the prawns. Asparagus spears or snow peas can be added with the prawns if in season. Add a handful of bean shoots when serving for some crunch. Serves 2.

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