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Bangkokian Tom Yum Soup with Prawns

Updated: Jan 23

Bangkok's answer to the Thai Classic


Prep: 15min || Cook: 15 min


What is it?

Tom Yum Goong is a comforting Thai soup with an incredibly tasty clear broth and prawns. But this one is a richer, creamier version made in the capital, Bangkok, with evaporated milk and noodles. Tom Yum's distinctive flavour is defined by the ritual of preparation of the broth. Warm, sweet, savoury, tangy, herbal, not very spicy, aromatic, soothing, refreshing are some words coming to my head every time I savour Tom Yum. The broth is made of boiled chicken carcass, infused with traditional Thai herbs like kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. For a tasty Tom Yum, the rule is to make the chicken broth as aromatic and flavoursome as possible.


Origin

As the author of this amazing Bangkok cookbook quotes, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, both culturally and culinary, is unique and so is its food. And nowhere else is the Thai appreciation for food more evident than in Bangkok. Some of the main factors that shaped Bangkokian food is geography and history. With the Chao Praya River running through the city, freshwater fish and river prawns are in abundance and are featured prominently in the city's dishes. Bangkok was also exposed to European, Persian, Chinese, and Japanese influences, as well as to other neighbouring nations that invaded parts of Siam. So the food has been significantly transformed into a beautiful and unconventional mix of foreign influences, which makes it unique not only in the region but in the whole world.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 4 nests of dried egg noodles

  • 12-16 fresh large prawns (whole, with shells and heads on)

  • 100gr oyster mushrooms (optional)

  • 1.5lt Chicken stock

  • 4 kaffir lime leaves

  • 1 lemongrass stalk

  • 1 thumb size ginger root

  • 1 can evaporated milk (or coconut milk)

  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (or chilli jam)

  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (or panang curry paste)

  • 4 tbsp fish sauce

  • 4 limes

  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Method

  1. The first step is to prepare the noodles according to pack instructions. Use a large pan with a matching lid (you can re-use the same for the soup). Drain the noodles in a colander, rinse under tap water and set aside.

  2. Pour around 1.5 lt of water in that same pan and bring to boil over high heat. I don't use water straight from the tap (I "Brita" it first) because it is very strong where I live and alters the taste of my soups.

  3. Until the water boils, prepare the other ingredients: cut and clean your prawns (needless to mention always buy fresh raw prawns) -if you don't know-how check here- Save the juice from the heads for later (flavour enhancer - optional). Slice the oyster mushrooms, roughly slice the ginger root (skin on), bruise the lemongrass stalk and cut it in half, chop some coriander leaves for the garnish.

  4. Once the water starts bubbling, reduce the heat and add the chicken carcass, lime leaves (tear them slightly to release more flavour), lemongrass, and ginger, cover with the lid and simmer for 30 min. If you are using chicken stock cubes instead, dissolve the cube first and then add all the herbs and simmer for 8-10 mins instead.

  5. Strain the broth through a sieve and discard everything but the lemongrass. Clean the pan and return the broth with the lemongrass stalks on low heat. Stir in the milk, chilli sauce, red curry paste and the juice from the prawn heads and simmer for 1-2 mins.

  6. Add the prawns and the mushrooms (if using) and simmer for another 4-5 mins, until cooked.

  7. Return the noodles to the pan and remove the pan from heat. While it's piping hot, stir in the fish sauce and the juice of 3 limes. Always try the broth before serving and season more to bring it to your taste liking (might need some more sugar if you are using coconut milk instead of evaporated).

  8. Fish out the lemongrass stalk and start serving in layers: Place a portion of noodles to the bottom of a noodle bowl. Add a couple of ladles from the soup with 2-3 prawns per portion and top it with a slice of lime and some fresh coriander leaves.

Like curried noodle soups? Try also my traditional Thai Curry Khao Soi noodles from North Thailand, which -to me- are simply the best Thai noodles in the world.

Shopping List

Below are my favourite authentic products I used to cook and shoot this recipe. By clicking and purchasing through my affiliate links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Thai Cookbooks

If you are after not just good-looking coffee table cookbooks but you are focusing on authenticity and going for just one Thai cookbook, that'd be the Phaidon Press Thai Cookbook. Bulky but comprehensive, this book is the A-Z of Thai food; with recipes collected from chefs and locals throughout the whole country, you will find here all the authentic food that you've tasted in Thailand or in your local Thai restaurant. But if you are addicted to Thai food and cook Thai a great deal, I'd totally recommend getting at least one more book. My personal preference would be something from Bangkok as it's not only the capital of Thailand but the whole Thai cuisine too. My first choice would be Bangkok Cookbook: Unique twists to authentic recipes that you can only find being cooked in Bangkokian street stalls, food stories from the capital and beautiful photography. Alternatively, I also liked a lot the Busaba cookbook. Not just for being one of my favourite casual Thai restaurants in London, but also because the recipes are designed for a party table or casual dinner with friends, meaning they are fun and simple to recreate and the ingredients easy to find.

Thai Cookbooks review
2 Thai Cookbooks and 2 Travel books you should own

Shop the look

If you like the serving styling in my photos, here are some suggestions for products you can buy from Amazon and build similar dining sets of your own:






Red Curry Paste

I love the Nonya Secrets brand, I discovered this brand accidentally at a food festival in London. I am addicted to them ever since. Their pastes and sauces are simply divine! And a little more expensive than their competitors for that matter... I usually buy the multi-selection value pack from their online shop, but you can find their products in deli markets (and Amazon) too. For the satay, the Panang paste gives an amazing flavour note to the peanut sauce, but any red curry paste would do. Please do yourself a favour and buy some authentic Thai brands like Maesri curry paste or the Lobo pastes which are simply divine!

Bought a pot of curry paste and used only a tablespoon or two? No worries, there are some inspired recipes on Nonya Secrets website but also check some of my recipes with Thai curry paste here.


Fish Sauce

A staple and essential product in Thai cuisine, is called 'Nam Pla' in Thai and is used in a similar way to soy sauce. Its characteristic scent, when tossed in stir-fries, is the first thing your nose picks up when you land on Bangkok's streets. Not to mention recent research suggests fish sauce is a better low-sodium flavour booster than salt. So there you go, it's healthier and boosts flavour too :-) Now the Tiparos Fish Sauce is authentically Thai and is used by all the chefs I was taught Thai food cooking in Thailand; I'm so happy I could find this brand in my local Thai supermarket and Amazon too (a little more expensive but works wonders really and is not as salty and intense as other brands).


Sweet Chilli Sauce

If you want to go authentic, the go-to product is Mae Pranom Sweet chilli. Used all over Thai street stalls and food markets and can make you perfect dip for vegetable sticks, prawn crackers and spring rolls. I recently realised it can give "body" and an extra sweet taste to this Tom Yum soup.


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