Tom Yum Goong - Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup

Tom Yum Goong - Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup - by

Tom Yum Goong – the quintessential Thai dish.  The spicy & sour shrimp soup that exemplifies the essence of Thai cuisine - fresh, tantalizing and robust. 

Throughout Thailand, there are endless versions of Tom Yum Goong.  From spicy to mild, sour to sweet, each soup varies in its mix of spices & herbs, and the choice between clear broth or creamy broth (with coconut milk or evaporated milk).  A good excuse to order Tom Yum Goong over and over again as you travel around the country.

ingredients for tom yam koong - galangal and lemongrass

With all the instant Tom Yum Goong spice pastes available at the grocery store, it may give the impression that making the Thai soup from scratch is difficult.  But if you have all the ingredients, and you are not too squeamish about preparing fresh shrimp – removing heads and shells, and deveining – than it is a cinch to prepare the more delicious fresh version.

Tom Yum Goong - Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup - by

To start, we need a shrimp broth.  So the shrimp heads and shells are simmered gently along with aromatic spices such as galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and sometimes tamarind and cilantro roots.  If you find that the broth isn’t strong enough, you can throw in more shrimp and simmer longer.  Or add a spoonful of nam phrik phao – Thai roasted chili paste made from dried shrimp, dried chili, onion, garlic, tamarind, sugar, and salt. 

Once the shrimp broth is ready, the remaining ingredients are added in.  The very spicy Thai bird’s eye chili peppers to make you sweat and sniffle.  Fish sauce for its pungent, salty flavor.  Lime juice to complement the lemongrass and add more sour notes to the broth.  And then mushrooms and tomatoes to finish off this highly addictive soup.

Thai tom yam koong shrimp soup recipe by

Cook up this Tom Yum Goong recipe a few times, and when you are comfortable with the balance of flavors, try adjusting the spices & herbs to create your own version.  Southeast Asian recipes are never meant to be followed to a T-spoon. Just start with the three core spices – galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves – and go from there. 

Skip the restaurant, skip the packaged spice paste, and make this fresh Thai Tom Yum soup recipe at home!

Seafood tom yum soup recipe by by

Tom Yum Goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) – Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup 
by Season with Spice 
Serves 4

6 cups water
10 - 12 large fresh shrimp
4 stalks lemongrass – white bulbous end only, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion – roughly chopped
2 inches of galangal – peeled and cut into thin slices*
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn and bruised lightly

6-8 oyster mushrooms, straw mushrooms, or button mushrooms – halved or quartered
2 tomatoes – cut into wedges
3 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
4-5 Thai bird’s eye chilies – smashed lightly
2-3 of dried Thai red chili peppers – broke into half
1-2 tbsp of Thai roasted chili paste called nam phrik phao (optional)
2-3 tbsp of fresh lime juice, or to taste
A handful of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Shrimp Broth -
1. Wash the shrimp well. Removed heads and shells, and place them in a large sauce pan or soup pot. Devein the shrimp, but don’t remove tail, then put them in bowl and keep in the refrigerator.
2. In the pan or pot that you placed the shrimp heads and shells, add in the water, two of the lemongrass stalks, two of the kaffir lime leaves, and half of the galangal. Bring it to a boil, while stirring occasionally. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. Strain the stock, and discard the shrimp shells and heads, and spices (for more flavor, you can leave in the spices).

Tom Yum Goong Soup - 
1. In the same pan or pot, bring the shrimp broth back to a boil. Add in the onion, and the remaining lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. Boil for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat down, and add in the mushrooms, Thai bird’s eye chili peppers, and dried red chili peppers. Simmer for a couple minutes until mushrooms are softened.
2. Toss in the shrimp meat (tails on) and tomatoes. Stir gently and simmer until the prawns firm up and the flesh turns opaque. Should not be more than two minutes. Add in the fish sauce and lime juice (and nam prik pao, if using). Stir and taste. Add in more fish sauce, lime juice and nam prik pao, if desired.
3. Turn the fire off and stir in the fresh cilantro leaves. Serve the soup piping hot with a bowl of steamed rice.