Tom Yum Goong Soup

The elusive lilt of lemongrass. The sour, puckery smack of tamarind. The warm-your-belly pervasiveness of galangal. And the unmistakably forthright—and, let’s face it, slightly funky—flavor of fish sauce. They meld to marvie effect in this exquisitely authentic rendering of an oft-replicated, but rarely-true-to-tradition, Thai soup. Pucker up for a perfectly pitched tang.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC In The Know Note

Chefs’ recipes. You want ‘em. Photographer Alan Batt’s got ‘em. Batt, who in our experience responds only when addressed as “Battman,” founded The Chef’s Connection as a means of flaunting the artistry of New York City’s finest, you know, chefs. To that same end, he’s also self-published a dozen stunning odes to food, truly spectacular testaments to chefs both renowned and still unknown. Take this recipe for a Thai specialty, found in Batt’s, er, Battman’s Soup book. It acquires its perfectly traditional tang from authentic ingredients in the hands of Thai chef Tanaporn Tangwibulchai. And here’s a little insidery New York restro scene gossip for those who want to be in the know. Ready? Thai Market. Those two words are what we’re hearing uttered in hushed, nay, reverential tones by those who know Thai food. It’s on the waaaay Upper West Side, and it’s where chef Tangwibulchai presides.

Tom Yum Goong Soup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 25 M
  • Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 stalks lemongrass, green part and root trimmed, remaining section cut into 3 pieces
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, each torn into 4 pieces
  • 2-inch piece galangal or ginger, sliced crosswise into 6 to 7 pieces
  • 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) cold water
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, left whole if small and roughly chopped if medium or large
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (you know, the block of brown tamarind found in Asian markets)
  • 7 to 10 tamarind tendrils (optional)
  • 3 to 15 bird’s eye chile peppers, smashed, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nam prik pao (roasted chile paste)
  • 1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 6 to 12 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions

  • 1. In a large pot, bring the lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal or ginger, and water to a boil and then lower the heat to medium. Add the shrimp, tamarind paste, tamarind tendrils (if using), chile peppers, and nam prik pao and simmer just until the shrimp is cooked through.
  • 2. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the mushrooms, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Liz Tarpy

Mar 05, 2013

I give this soup high marks for the hot and sour flavor I love, and for a pretty quick turnaround. I used ginger in place of the galangal, but if lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, tamarind paste, or roasted chile paste are hard to come by, there are no good substitutes and therefore there’s not much point in making this otherwise delicious soup.

Testers Choice
Tamiko Lagerwaard

Mar 05, 2013

This soup, due mainly to the tamarind and lime, has a very tangy and slightly sour quality to it. It’s nicely balanced though from the saltiness of the fish sauce and the slight bit of sugar. The lemongrass and lime leaves didn’t have a strong presence in the dish, but undoubtedly added to the overall flavor. Since this is a very brothy soup, it’s really more of an appetizer than a meal. It comes together quickly and is very straightforward and simple to make once you’ve all of the ingredients, some of which may take a bit of searching to find. The only thing I didn’t care for was the use of raw mushrooms, which don’t have a chance to cook since they’re added at the end. I’d rather panfry the mushrooms first, or use dehydrated shiitakes in the future, which would add a nice earthiness to the soup. To make this a meal, I think the addition of some grated carrots, fresh spinach, and perhaps Asian dumplings would be welcome without distracting from the wonderful depth of the tangy, salty, and slightly spicy notes.

Comments
Comments
  1. Merryweather says:

    Tamiko, the use of raw mushrooms is traditional for this dish.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Many thanks for chiming in, Merryweather. The mushrooms in this recipe are stirred in just before the soup is ladled into bowls, so actually they are effectively uncooked. Maybe just barely warmed through.

  2. Cez Flannery says:

    1. I love the taste of “fresh” mushrooms added at the end. For others who do not want uncooked mushrooms, perhaps you could add the mushrooms a minute or two (or even longer) before turning off the heat.

    2. Am I the only one missing the tomato wedges from this recipe?

    3. To make this a full meal, I ladle the soup unto a smaller soup bowl and add cooked plain rice. Mouth-wateringly delicious!

    Thank you for this recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Cez, many thanks for taking the time to share your suggestions! Your thoughts regarding the mushrooms and rice are both terrific. And as for the tomato wedges, over the years I have seen Tom Yum Goong served in such a fashion—that is to say, with tomato wedges—at restaurants, although the recipes I’ve seen over the years for this soup—including the one featured on this page—rarely include tomato. That, even though the photo above, which accompanies this recipe in the book and which we were given permission to reprint, appears to include tomato wedges. Perhaps it’s a regional preference? Or an Americanization? I’m going to continue to research this and let you know if I learn anything.

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