Tom Yum soup is a perfect harmony of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. It is packed with umami, which makes it very savoury and hard to resist. I went through a Thai food phase when a Thai friend introduced me to authentic Thai food. She would introduce me to ingredients I have never seen before, from pickled green peppercorns to a spice that is extacted from an insect. I was mesmerized when I finally tasted Tom Yum Goong at a restaurant, and knew that this was going to be the first Thai dish that I wanted to learn.
During my first attempts, I was cramming it full of toppings, such as tomatoes and Thai eggplants, but I eventually removed them from the recipe. Years later, I pretty much reduced this down to a very flavourful broth with a couple of toppings. I usually make this soup a tad spicy, which is great for the winter months. It also makes a wonderful soup base for hot pot cooking.
Tom Yum Soup
This recipe for the soup packs a lot of flavour. If you find it to be too concentrated, it can be thinned down with some additional water for a lighter flavour. Most of the saltiness will come from the fish sauce, which can be increased or reduced to your taste. Same with the spicy chillies, increase or reduce this to your liking and keep in mind that the Prik Pao is already a little spicy. I also strain the inedible ingredients out of the soup, but you can keep it in to give it a rustic look. The shrimp and mushrooms are toppings, and should be tossed into the soup right before serving. If you don't plan on finishing the soup, then just add however many shrimps and mushrooms that you'll be eating and then freeze the remaining soup.
- Step 1
Remove the shells from the shrimp and place the shells in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil and let the shells simmer for 10 minutes to make a stock. Set the shrimp meat aside.
- Step 2
Strain the shells out of the stock. To the stock, add lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves and chillies. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Step 3
Strain all the solids out of the stock. To the stock, add lime juice, prik pao and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Step 4
Add shrimp meat and mushrooms to the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until shrimp is cooked.
- Step 5
Serve immediately before the shrimps become overcooked. Serve with a side of steamed rice to make a meal out of it.