International Recipes

Tom Yum (Hot and Sour Soup)

Tom Yum can be made with a number of ingredients. The version given here is for a simple tom yum het (mushroom soup), but it can also be tom yum kai (chicken), tom yum moo (pork), tom yum neua (beef), or tom yum khoong (shrimp), by simply substituting the mushrooms for another flavor ingredient. You can also mix and match to suit yourself.

Thai's serve the soup with the rest of the meal, usually in a large soup tureen, and each diner serves themselves, and uses it to wash out the mouth between selections from the other foods.



  • 2 pounds fresh mushrooms (or other ingredient), cut into convenient spoonable size pieces
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, bruised (this isn't eaten, but is an essential flavor)
  • 2 "kaffir" lime leaves (use lime zest if you can't get it)
  • 2 coriander (cilantro) plants, chopped
  • 10 to 15 prik ki nu (birdseye chiles), thinly sliced
  • 2 to 5 dried red chiles
  • Juice of 3 or 4 limes
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons sliced bamboo shoots or coconut shoots
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons "chiles in oil"*

Nam Prik Pao (Chiles in Oil)

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried red chiles
  • 1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar


  1. Nam Prik Pao: Heat the oil; add the garlic and shallots and fry briefly, remove from the oil and set aside.
  2. Add the chiles and fry until they start to change color, then remove them and set them aside.
  3. In a mortar and pestle pound the shrimp paste, add the chiles, garlic and shallots, blending each in before adding the next.
  4. Over low heat return all the ingredients to the oil, and fold into a uniform paste.
  5. The resulting thick, slightly oily red/black sauce will keep almost indefinitely. If you wish, you can add more fish sauce and/or sugar to get the flavor you want.
  6. The fresh chiles should be bruised in a mortar and pestle. The dried chiles should be heated first, then crumbled into the fresh chiles. Beat the lemon grass with the grinder of the mortar and pestle (it's called a 'sa' in Thai; I'm never sure whether it is the mortar or the pestle in English) or the back of a cleaver.
  7. Heat about 3 cups of water to boiling point, add all the ingredients, and stir constantly until cooked (it doesn't take long for mushrooms, longer for chicken or shrimp, and longest for beef).

* The "chiles in oil" or nam prik pao can be bought in small glass bottles from oriental specialty stores. You can also make your own:

Variation: Use three cups of thin coconut milk instead of water, the result is tom kha, rather than tom yum.

Posted by WingsFan91 at Recipe Goldmine 11/14/2001 6:55 pm.

Special thanks to Muoi Khuntilanont.

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