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Spring Soup Series – Tom Yum Goong

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This is the fifth recipe from my SPRING SOUP series.

I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire.

Johnny Cash seemed to be cheering for us on that last Sunday dinner then, when we had to chow down on these very spicy duck red curry and prawn-vegetables stir fry.

“Is it really hot in here, or is it just me?” saying jokingly to my dinner buddy when we saw burning cheeks and sweat coming out on our faces. Given I’m Asian, he looked more “burned” than I did. It felt like the house is burning down as we see other Thai dishes flying around that looked as spicy as ours.

I love spicy food, that’s why I also like Thai cuisines. My tolerance for hot stuff is really good, quite at par to confidently say so. That night though, it was spiciness at its finest.

Don’t fret. Not all Thai dishes are created equal. Actually, there are a few that aren’t spicy at all. You can also still even enjoy most of them by just scrimping on these small but terrible Thai peppers. I love Thai curries in general (remember my fish curry?). I also adore pad thais, but that’s something I can say more about later. Since we’re on our spring soup series, let me share with you my other favorite – a soup from Thailand called tom yum.

Tom yum (or yam) is apparently a Lao and Thai clear, spicy and sour soup. It is also commonly served in neighboring countries like Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore; but since Thai restaurants are everywhere now, tom yum soup is a global sensation.

Its name is derived from two Thai words that directly say about this dish. The word “tom” refers to the boiling process, while “yam” s a kind of Lao and Thai spicy and sour salad. Tom yum soup is known for its distinct hot and sour flavors, with fragrant herbs generously used in the broth. The essence of this soup comes from the broth of course, which is made of stock from fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers.

Tom yum soup varies with the meats that go along in it. The most popular amongst tourists and my personal favorite as well is the one that’s called tom yum goong (or kung), which uses prawns as the main ingredient. And here’s the recipe I want to share.

Taan hâi a-ròi!

Tom Yum Goong

Cooking Diaries, Food, Soups

Tom Yum Goong


  • 20 prawns (shrimp), medium size
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken broth/soup stock
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, lightly pounded, cut into 1 inch long segments
  • 4 table spoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh galangal
  • 1/2 cup straw mushroom or local fresh mushrooms, halved or whole
  • 6 to 8 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 crushed fresh Thai chile peppers
  • 2 tablespoons "prik pao" roasted chile in oil
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Wash the prawns and shell them without removing the tails.
  2. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves.
  3. Bring back to a boil then add mushrooms, fish sauce, prik pao and lime juice.
  4. Add prawns and fresh chile peppers. As soon as prawns turn pink (cooked through) serve garnished with cilantro.


Actually, there's a rather simple and effective way to make this dish is a with a ready-made tom yum paste or cubes. And here's what you should do with it: Add two tablespoons of tom yum paste to three cups boiling water. Add 1.5 teaspoons salt, add mushrooms and prawns. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, add 5-7 Thai chile peppers and onions, and serve garnished with cilantro.


Do you like tom yum too? What is your most favorite Thai soup?

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