Tom Yam Goong

Tom Yum Goong

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I love Thai food and have influenced my boys into loving it as well. Tom yum, a hot and sour soup, is a favorite though it took years before I fell in love with coriander. Ages ago, I would never eat anything with this herb that stinks big time like a ladybug. Now I garnish my salad and soup with lots and love it so much. I’m happy my boy likes it, too. (But I pay more attention to the amount of galangal I add.)

It took me a lot of courage to finally try cooking this dish, even prepped fusion seafood versions before, but my first attempt was quite successful my boy finished it to the last drop. Now we can have it anytime we like.

I’d like to cook tom yum at home as authentic as I can but of course I can’t make it too hot and sometimes struggles to find some of the ingredients. If I can’t find shallots, I use red onions or just ordinary onions. Can’t find fresh kaffir lime leaves, I opt for dried ones. Nevertheless, I think the outcome is still stunning.

Tom Yum Goong
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
Thai hot and sour soup with prawns
  • 250g medium-sized raw prawns
  • 2½ cups of water (or chicken broth)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, ends cut, outer layer removed, cut into 2″ pieces and smashed lightly
  • 6 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • Half a thumb of fresh galangal, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium size onion, whole with skin removed and smashed lightly
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp coriander roots
  • ½ cup straw mushrooms, halved
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp patis or more (fish sauce)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice or more
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
  • 3 roasted dry chili (roast in a dry wok over medium heat until browned and fragrant, or use smashed fresh red chilies)
  1. Remove prawn heads; don’t discard the fat on at the base of the head. Peel the prawns leaving tails intact, and devein. Set aside heads, shells and legs.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan. Add the prawn shells, heads and legs and cook for about 10 minutes. Crush heads and toss frequently over medium heat until deep orange. Add water and bring to boil. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Strain, reserve the stock, and discard heads and shells.
  3. Return the stock to the pan and bring to boil. Throw in the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander roots, galangal, onion, tomato and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the soup smells herbal. Add a pinch of salt and throw in the prawns. Cook for a minute or until the prawns turn pink/orangey.
  4. Turn off heat. Season with lime juice and fish sauce (and brown sugar if you like). Add the chilies (smashed or chopped, depends on how spicy you want) and fresh coriander.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with more coriander leaves, and serve hot.



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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

8 thoughts on “Tom Yum Goong

  1. you make it sound so easy! i doubt if i can do this…lol. we tried this once but my eldest wasn’t too fond of it; i wonder if he’ll like it now that he’s a bit older … :)
    – maiylah’s last blog ..Food Friday

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