Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yam Kung)


The little Thai CookbookThis soup is probably the most well-known Thai dish of all. Although it is usually made with prawns, it works equally well with fish. To achieve the famous distinctive aroma and flavours, use only the freshest good-quality ingredients.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 12 oz (350 g) raw prawns (shrimp)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 lemon grass stalks, white part only, bruised
  • 3 thin slices of galangal
  • 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) chicken stock or water
  • 7 bird’s eye chillies, stems removed, bruised
  • 5 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 oz (70 g) straw mushrooms, or quartered button mushrooms
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), sliced
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • a few coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnish
How to Make It
  1. Peel and devein the prawns, leaving the tails intact and reserving the heads and shells. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or wok and add the prawn heads and shells. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the shells turn bright orange.
  2. Add one stalk of lemon grass to the pan with the galangal and stock or water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock and return to the pan. Discard the shells and flavourings.
  3. Thinly slice the remaining lemon grass and add it to the liquid with the chillies, lime leaves, fish sauce, mushrooms and spring onions. Cook gently for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the prawns and cook for 3 minutes, or until the prawns are firm and pink. Take off the heat and add the lime juice. Taste, then adjust the seasoning with extra lime juice or fish sauce if necessary. Garnish with coriander leaves.

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