Tom Yum is a timeless classic when it comes to Thai soups. What takes Tom Yum to another level is a freshly made Nam Prik Pao (Thai chilli paste) and the use of prawn heads and shells to form as a base for the soup. Super nutritious, delicious and extremely moorish lets make Tom Yum Goong!
Nam Prik Pao:
1. Let’s start off by making the Nam Prik Pao, alternatively you could just buy this, however, making your own is a game changer. Start by removing the seeds from a generous 25-30 dried red chillies then use a pair of scissors to cut up the dried red chillies into smaller pieces. When ready add the dried red chillies to a dry pan and toast until slightly darker in colour and fragrant. When toasted set the dried chillies to one side as we will pulse these later. Next roughly chop and peel 6 garlic cloves and 4 small shallots. Add the shallots and garlic also to a dry pan and roast until fragrant.
2. Next add the toasted chillies, garlic and shallots to a food processor along with 1 tsp of shrimp paste, 2-3 tbsp of tamarind concentrate, 2-3 tbsp of shaved palm sugar and a pinch of salt. Pulse for 2-3 minutes until a rough paste is made. If the paste becomes too dry then add a touch of cooking oil to loosen.
3. When the paste is ready add a generous amount of cooking oil to a pan then place onto a medium heat. Add the paste then mix well to coat in the cooking oil. Slowly cook the paste for 10-20 minutes or until the paste becomes slightly jammy and aromatic. When ready adjust the seasoning if needed then store the Nam Prik Pao in a container and we will add some of this to the soup towards the very end.
4. Now to move onto preparing the tiger prawns, we want to keep at least half of the shrimp heads and shells as these will form the base to the broth. Start by removing some of the heads and outer shells from the shrimp then place the shells separately for now. When ready lightly score down the back of the shrimp and remove the tract then set both the peeled shrimp and shells separately to one side for now.
5. Just before we begin to move onto making the broth there are a few other key aromatics to prepare before we begin. Start by roughly slicing approximately 25g of galangal, peel 5 garlic cloves, roughly chop 3 shallots, bruise and roughly chop 3 lemongrass stalks, slice a few birdseye chillies into half and tare 6 kafir lime leaves. When ready we can now start to make the base of the broth.
6. To start the broth add a small drizzle of oil into a large saucepan then add the shrimp heads and shells. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the shells and heads are cooked and start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Next add the sliced lemongrass, shallots, garlic, chillies, galangal and kafir lime leaves and continue to stirfry for a further 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
7. To finish the base of the broth, now add approximately 2.5 litres of water to the shells and arromatics then bring the liquid up to a boil. Remove any foam that may rise to the top of the broth then when boiling turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow the broth to slowly simmer for 25-30 minutes.
8. Whilst we wait on the broth to infuse we can finish up by preparing a few extra ingredients to complete the Tom Yum. Slice some small chestnut mushrooms and oysters into bite sized pieces. Pick some coriander and slice a few additional birdseye chillies and finally squeeze the juice of 5-6 limes as this will be needed to add to the soup at the very end. Additional to make more of a substantial dish out of the soup we can optionally also prepare some glass noodles to add to the Tom Yum. Add enough glass noodles for 4-5 to boiled water and allow to soak until cooked and translucent.
9. Now to move back to the broth, after a good 25-30 minutes the broth should be nearly ready. Start by using a sieve to remove the shells and aromatics added earlier. Now keeping the broth on a simmer add 1-2 generous tbsps of the nam prik pao made earlier and stir into the broth.
10. We now want to add the mushrooms to the broth and allow them to simmer for 4-5 minutes until cooked. When ready we can now add the shrimp, a few additional ripped kafir lime leaves and a few tbsp of fish sauce to season the soup. Continue to cook the broth for an additional 2 minutes then when the shrimps are cooked turn off the heat. Now off the heat its time to finish the soup, add the juice of 5-6 limes squeezed earlier and to make the broth much more creamy add approximately 100mls of evaporated milk and stir to incorporate into the soup. At this point we can now adjust the seasoning if needed by adding additional lime juice or fish sauce to balance out the Tom Yum.
11. Now the Tom Yum is ready to serve, add the glass noodles to serving bowls then ladle over the hot broth. Finish with some of the cooked shrimp, additional chopped chillies and some coriander to freshen up the Tom Yum and nourish…
Instead of shrimp then you could also experiment by using lobsters or even crab to replace the shrimp to make up the base of the Tom Yum. If you want to skip on the glass noodles then its more common to serve Tom Yum with some fresh steamed rice. I hope you like this recipe and as always peace!
Cook Time: 40 mins / Total prep time 45-60 mins
To serve 4-5
Broth and shrimp:
12-15 whole tiger prawns
5 garlic cloves
6 kafir lime leaves
25g galangal or ginger
3-5 birdeye chillies
Nam Prik Pao:
25-30 dried red chillies
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp shrimp paste
2-3 tbsp tamarind concentrate
2-3 tbsp palm sugar
50ml oil for frying
fish sauce to season
100ml evaporated milk
small chestnut mushrooms
glass noodles (optional)