The most famous Thai soup in the world has to be Tom Yum Koong – hot and sour soup, with prawns. If you eat Thai food, chances are that you’ve tried tom yum!
There are a few different ways to make tom yum, and everyone has their own opinion on how it should be done. Some recipes call for chilli paste and evaporated milk, some just chilli paste. Others like it old school with neither, some use prawn stock, some just use water! I’ve made numerous bowls of tom yum this weekend and decided I prefer the version with the milk and chilli paste. I’ll let you decide how you want to play it!
What is never up for debate though are the herbs used. Lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime leaves and red chilli are an absolute must. Tom yum almost always has mushrooms and tomatoes as well.
Another herb commonly used in Tom Yum is Pak Chi Farang or sawtooth coriander as it’s also known. It tastes like coriander (cilantro) but stands up to heat better, which is perfect for a hot soup. If you can’t get hold of this, though, just use regular coriander stems in the soup, then garnish with the leaves.
The last ingredient I want to talk about is the chilli paste (nam prik pao), which is sometimes referred to as chilli jam. It’s made from roasted red chillis, shallots, garlic and dried shrimps. It’s pretty easy to make yourself, but most of the time shop bought paste is used. It’s easy enough to find in Chinese supermarkets, you can even pick it up in now in a lot of U.K supermarkets, and online.
If you are shelling the prawns yourself, you can use the heads to make a stock. You may find find it can be slightly overpowering with the prawns in the chilli paste, so I’m using water for this recipe. Chicken stock also works well.