So, we start off a tour of Thai food with one of the most recognized of all dishes – Tom Yum Goong. In case you weren’t aware, “Tom” in Thai means “boiled, “Yum” is “salad” and “Goong” is “shrimp. So, literally this is a boiled salad of shrimp, but it is really so much more than that as you’ll soon find out.
The true genius in Tom Yum Goong comes from the flavor and mixture of many herbs like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, chili, and galangal. Just thinking about it and my mouth starts to water and I inadvertently let out a sigh of “mmmmmmmm”. You’ll note that there is a distinct sour note to the soup, as well as heat from the chili and a lusciousness provided by the coconut milk. When combined with the sweetness of the shrimp and the earthiness of the mushrooms the combination is a delight to the palate, one of the prime reasons that Tom Yum Goong is one of the most widely recognized Thai dishes.
- 12 medium shrimp
- 10 straw mushrooms (10 Button mushrooms, optional)
- 4-5 pieces thin sliced young galangal
- 1 medium tomato, sliced in 4 pieces
- 1 lemongrass stalk, lightly smashed and cut into pieces 2 inches in length
- 3-4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
- 3 small shallots, peeled and lightly smashed
- 3-5 fresh chili, lightly smashed
- 3-5 spiny coriander, roughly chopped
- Juice of 2 Key limes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons roasted chili paste
- 2 cups coconut milk or whole milk
- 2 cups water
- Clean, peel (but leave the tail part), and then de-vein the shrimps.
- Wash the mushrooms thoroughly and cut in half (big ones can cut into 4 pieces).
- Mix roasted chili paste with coconut milk (or whole milk) until fully blended and set it aside.
- Add water to the pot and turn on medium-high to high heat until boiling (you can also use the leftover shells and shrimp heads to make a delicious broth instead of using plain water – simply add them to the water, bring to boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then strain and use this liquid as the base for your soup).
- Add galangal, lemongrass, and shallots to boil for about 5 minutes or until you start to smell the aroma of the lemongrass and galangal.
- Put in mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, mixed roasted chilli paste and coconut milk (from no. 3). Stir and wait until it boils for a few minutes.
- Add the shrimps into boiling water. Do not stir. Wait until they turn pink (please do not let the shrimps cook too long because they will get shrink and get tough).
- Turn off the heat, put in the shredded kaffir lime leaves. Season to taste with smashed fresh chili, lime juice, sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
- Scoop the soup into the serving bowl, sprinkle with spiny coriander leaves and serve hot.
You can certainly add more chili if you like things a bit hotter, I have had Tom Yum Goong here in Thailand that is so hot it makes you sweat. And yes, it is still just as delicious when the heat is turned up like this! To make the meal a bit more filling serve with jasmine rice (that’s how it’s done in Thailand), using the rice as a plate of sorts for the soup ingredients and broth. And maybe start off your authentic Thai meal with some delicious spring rolls.