color by numbers

mindless musings of a semi-creative guy

Tasty Tuesday – Tom Yum

I know, I know.  Last Tuesday I said I’d be back full swing after being off sick for a week, and look at this – 2 Tasty Tuesday in a row, without anything between them.  I promise I have a small stack of half-finished posts that were on the docket!  Just got too busy to finish them up.  I’ll get back to being a good little blogger here soon…

tom yam bowl

I made this!

Anyways, for today’s Tasty Tuesday, we’re going to check out a popular Thai soup known as “Tom Yum.” (Say it like: (d)tome yum)  I’ve just finished my most recent module (with an exam today, actually!), which was focused on all things related to the kitchen.  Of course, I didn’t enjoy this course of study at all.  Noooo.  Me?  Love things about food and cooking?  Nope.  Wait.  I loved it!  Even better than learning the names for a large number of fruits, vegetables, and herbs… spices, pastes, and sauces… kitchen utensils and cooking vocabulary… was that fact that I got to learn to make yet another Thai dish from my tutor.

The first time we lived in Thailand (6.5 months in 2005), I stayed on the top floor of a storefront church building with 2 Thai women older than myself.  One was in her mid-30’s, the other in her early 70’s.  The older of the two was in charge of getting the meal around for church every Sunday, and when she learned of my affinity for the kitchen, she gladly enrolled my help whenever I was around.  During my time with her, I learned to make several dishes the proper Thai way.  Among them were things like Som Tam, Kaeng Sapparot, Pad Thai, Khaaw Phat, Satay, and Krapow Kai.  Over the course of the past few years, I’ve used those skills to make authentic Thai meals whenever we had the craving, so I’ve kept up on it and still believe I can make them well.

Earlier in our time here in Lopburi, I also was offered a cooking lesson by one of the teachers at our language center.  You may remember my post last November about making Phat Priaw Waan with Khruu Awd and Puk.  I love learning new ways of cooking, as well as how to make meals from other cultures the right way – not the typical Americanized type of Asian food.  Well, it turned out that Puk (from the other post) became my tutor from the community for the past month, and I really enjoyed spending time both getting to know her and learning about what Thai people really eat here in Lopburi.

After finding out what Puk enjoys making, we decided Tom Yum would be the next recipe for me to add to my collection.  I have come to find out that this is not actually a “pure” Tom Yam recipe, as she adds a type of Thai chili jam to her soup.  This is not how it is commonly served in restaurants and street stalls, rather it is a personal preference.  This addition is liked enough, though, that some shops will supply customers with a dish of jam to add to their own bowl.  Doesn’t matter to me, because this is the first Tom Yam that I have actually ever liked enough to eat a whole bowl of!  Tom Yam is a sour-salty soup, often packing a punch from the chilies (though a lot flavorful heat is not necessary, if that’s not your thing).

tom yum all

L to R: galangal, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, the finished product

What you need for 1 small pot:
(2-3 servings)

น้ำจืด – water to fill 2/3 pot
เนื้อไก่สะโพก – 1 chicken thigh+leg
เห็ดฟาง – handful of mushrooms
ตะไคร้ – 1-2 stalks lemongrass
ใบมะกรูด – 10-12 Kaffir lime leaves
มะเขือเทศ – 1 tomato
มะขามเปียก – 1 pc. tamarind in vinegar or paste
พริกขีหนู – 2-3 long Thai chilies
มะนาว – 1 lime
ข่า – 3 slices galangal
ผักชี handful cilantro/coriander
พริกเผา – Thai chili jam
น้ำปลาfish sauce
เครื่องปรุงรส – seasonings (salt, Thai “RotDi”, pepper, etc.)

The assembly of this soup is really quite simple –
– While bringing water to a boil, remove chicken bones and crack in half.  Add bones to water to make stock.  Slice chicken meat into strips and set aside.

– Trim rough ends from lemongrass and cut each stalk into thirds.  Pound each stalk with the back of your knife to bruise the lemongrass.  Halve mushrooms.  Remove center vein from each of the lime leaves, then tear leaves in half.  Remove stems from chilies and beat each chili once to break the skin.  Slice 3 thin coins of galangal (similar to ginger).  Add all of these, plus tamarind and roughly chopped cilantro, right away to your broth and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

– When mushrooms begin to get tender, add the chicken to your broth.  Slice tomato into large chunks (4-8 depending on the size of your tomato) and add at this time as well.  Juice half of the lime into your broth, and allow it to simmer a few minutes more.

– Once meat is cooked through, taste your soup.  Add fish sauce, salt, more lime juice and Thai chili jam (optional ingredient) according to your taste.  Remove lemongrass stalks and whole tamarind before serving.


May 25, 2010 - Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand


  1. i love how you put the thai words in there this time. 1/2 those ingredients tho, i’d have no idea about. they eat a lot of limes don’t they? i couldn’t do that. :o(

    Comment by mom | May 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Ha – it took me forever to type in the Thai though, since I’m not so familiar with the layout of the Thai keyboard yet. Don’t worry, I’ll bring home a lot of this stuff to let you check it out whenever we get to come back someday! 🙂

      Comment by Sara | May 25, 2010 | Reply

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