Whilst travelling through Thailand recently I became obsessed with Tom Yum Soup. I tried to eat it as often as possible and would compare each of the different styles and flavours. My favourites were always the fragrant ones with a real kick of heat.
I was lucky enough in my time in Asia to dine at one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, Nahm. Right in the heart of Bangkok, Nahm is the brainchild of the widely acclaimed chef David Thompson. The surprisingly traditional Thai menu is impressive, clever and wildly hot. Of course as a matter of course, I ordered the tom yum soup, and christ was it a good move! I couldn’t wait to get home and make some for myself.
Once home I started looking for recipes for the perfect tom yum soup. However, after the ground breaking tom yum in Nahm, I just had to make David Thompson’s version. This recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Forager.
You will need (serves 3/4):
- 4 cups (1L) of chicken stock (I used Tom Yum Stock Cubes)
- good pinch of salt
- pinch of white sugar
- 1 large tomato, cut into eighths
- 1 dried long red chilli, coarsely chopped (I used 3 small dried chillies)
- 8 – 12 raw prawns in their shells (or peeled with tails on for ease)
- 3 – 5 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
- 4 – 5 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn
- 2 – 3 slices of galangal
- 5 red shallots, peeled
- 4 – 5 coriander roots, cleaned
- 5 – 10 green bird’s eye chillies, to taste (we used 4)
- 200g straw or oyster mushrooms, cleaned & trimmed
- 1 – 2 tbsp tamarind water (optional)
- 2- 4 tbsp lime juice, to taste
- 1 – 2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
- 3 – 10 bird’s eye chillies, bruised (we used 3)
- pinch of roasted chilli powder
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- Bring the stock to the boil, season with the salt and sugar then add dried chilli.
- Peel and de-vein the prawns, but leave the tails attached; the heads can be left intact for a more pleasing presentation, but it makes for trickier eating later
- Using a mortar and pestle, bruise the lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, shallots, coriander roots and green bird’s eye chillis. Add these, with the tomatos to the simmering stock, then cut or tear the mushrooms and add them too. Simmer for a minute or so until the mushrooms are tender before adding the prawns and tamarind water, if using. Simmer until the prawns are cooked – about 2 – 3 minutes.
- In a serving bowl, combine the lime juice with the fish sauce, chillies, chilli powder and coriander. Pour in the soup and stir thoroughly. It should taste equally hot, salt and sour – adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- Serve with steamed rice.
The tom yum in Nahm really bites your head off, whereas my version was a little more bearable, without losing any of the flavour. Even if you’re used to hot Thai food, I probably wouldn’t go wild with the chilies, as birds eyes are no joke!
The soup comes together so easily, you really won’t believe it. I suggest prepping everything before you start cooking. This way you just have to pop things in the pot and sit back to enjoy the wonderful fragrances drifting from the pan.
Have you tried making a tom yum yourself? Let me know how it turned out.