I recently took a cooking class at 137 Pillars in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The chef took us to the local markets and we wandered through the colorful stalls and tried various delights, things I hadn’t seen or tasted before, flavor combinations that were completely new to me in my years working as a professional chef. It was a feast for the eyes and the senses, and after we made this Tom Yum Goong soup together back at the hotel, I took the recipe home with me to the U.S. and tinkered with it. I was able to find all of the ingredients in a fairly rural area, one that doesn’t have a diverse food culture, so it makes me optimistic for anyone wanting to try this recipe at home. 

Tom Yum Goong:

To Make It You Will Need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 stalks fresh lemongrass, trim off the end and rood and smash it with the back of a knife to bruise it and release the flavors, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 slices fresh galangal root (it is very hard to substitute for this and it makes the dish, so search for this online if you can’t find it locally, then store it in your freezer for future recipes)
  • 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (also makes the dish and a crucial ingredient for the floral citrus flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (not the sweet kind)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (ask the Asian market which their most popular brand is. Golden Boy is a good one to look for)
  • 12 fresh Thai chili peppers, 6 of which should be split in half to allow for some kick. You can always split more open for additional spice
  • 1 small white onion cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 tablespoons roasted chili paste (nam prik pao)
  • 2 cups straw mushrooms or other exotic mushroom of your choosing, the delicate ones are the best texture
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound chicken breast, sliced into 1/2-inch thin pieces
  • 2 small limes
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro

What I Love About This Soup

The full step-by-step instructions are in the printable recipe below. What I love about this soup is that is is all about creating a flavorful broth base that you can then combine with whatever proteins you have on hand.

Tom Yum Goong

For example I know that many of you are wild game fans, so you could easily substitute the chicken for pheasant or dove or quail or turkey and it would be sublime. You could also add pieces of fish instead of shrimp. Or skip the shrimp all together and opt for meat only. It would be less authentic of course, but I love the idea of making it your own with what you have on hand. 

Adding the squirt of lime as a garnish and the fresh cilantro gives it a wonderful tang that makes this a sweet and sour flavored soup. 

We all have a different heat tolerance so I kept splitting open these chilis until it was as spicy as I wanted. Remember that over time more of the spice will develop so don’t go too crazy in the beginning. 

Serve this with a side of rice if you would like, or even better, finish the meal off with Coconut Mango Sticky Rice, recipe coming soon!

“Tom Yum Goong”

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

“Tom Yum Goong”

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 stalks fresh lemongrass, trim off the end and rood and smash it with the back of a knife to bruise it and release the flavors, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 slices fresh galangal root (it is very hard to substitute for this and it makes the dish, so search for this online if you can't find it locally, then store it in your freezer for future recipes)
  • 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (also makes the dish and a crucial ingredient for the floral citrus flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (not the sweet kind)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (ask the Asian market which their most popular brand is. Golden Boy is a good one to look for)
  • 12 fresh Thai chili peppers, 6 of which should be split in half to allow for some kick. You can always split more open for additional spice
  • 1 small white onion cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 tablespoons roasted chili paste (nam prik pao)
  • 2 cups straw mushrooms or other exotic mushroom of your choosing, the delicate ones are the best texture
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound chicken breast, sliced into 1/2-inch thin pieces
  • 2 small limes, juiced
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and stock to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and tamarind paste. Break apart the tamarind paste with a wooden spoon in the hot liquid until it is dissolved.
  3. Add the onion, chili paste and mushrooms and boil for about 7 minute more.
  4. Add the chili peppers, tomatoes, shrimp and chicken and cook until the proteins are firm and the shrimp have turned orange, about 7 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and fresh cilantro leaves. Add additional fish sauce to taste and serve with lime wedges on the side.
http://georgiapellegrini.com/2018/08/13/food-drink/tom-yum-goong/

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Georgia Pellegrini

Growing up on her family’s farm in upstate New York, Georgia developed a passion for simple farm-to table food and a deep connection to the outdoors. Having worked in the finance world after college, she decided to leave her cubicle and reconnect with her roots. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, she began working in Michelin restaurants in New York and France, and soon started leading her renowned Adventure Getaways: excursions around the country aimed at promoting “manual literacy” and helping participants step outside of their comfort zone and experience life more viscerally. Georgia is a firm believer in empowering people to be self-sufficient, identify personal strengths and pursue their life passions.