Thai Food: Tom Yam Kung

Tom Yam Kung (or Tom Yum Goong) is a hot, spicey and sour soup, made with prawns as the main ingredient. This Thai masterpiece is hugely popular among both Thais and tourists. This dish was listed as number 8 on CNN Travels World’s 50 best foods.

“The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Here’s a recipe from

Tom Yam Kung – ต้มยำกุ้ง


3 chili peppers
5 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaves)
2 tablespoon fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 lemongrass
1-2 limes
5 Mushrooms
1 tablespoon Nam Prig Pow (Thai chili paste)
1 cup shrimp
4 cups water

Edit: this recipe is without galangal, and my wife says that without galangal it’s not a complete dish. So add 3 slices fresh galangal . You can also add 1-2 spoons coconut milk if you like the creamy version. And me personally like to add a few cherry tomatoes cut in half.

You can find Nam Prig Pow (my wife buys this one), kaffir lime leaves and galangal in asian supermarkets.

Boil water in a 2-quart pot. Peel and de-vein the shrimp and set them aside. Cut lemon grass into pieces, 5-6 inches long. Use the back of your knife to pound the lemon grass, just to bruise it to release the flavor. Tie the lemongrass into a knot to make it easier to manage. Drop the lemon grass in water and let boil for 5 minutes together with three slices fresh galangal.

Put the fish sauce and one lime’s juice into the bottom of the bowls you will serve the soup in. Crush chili pepper and add to the bowl.

Remove the stems from the kaffir lime leaves and add the leafy part to the pot. Clean and halve the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Let it boil. Add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Shrimp gets tough very quickly, and will cook even when it is just sitting in the warm broth. Scoop the shrimp and liquid into the serving bowls immediately. As soon as you add the liquid to the serving bowl, you will see that the broth becomes cloudy because of the lime juice. Add the nam prig pow. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Be very careful, the peppers can be hot. Take a small sip at a time. Add more fish sauce and/or lime juice if it tastes bland.

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