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Thai hot and sour soup (Tom Yum)

By February 10, 2015 , ,

I've always had love affair with Thai food, simple fresh, tasty, what more could you want. The great thing about Thai food is its simplicity, but the trick is getting the flavours right. Where the recipes may require quite a few ingredients and the method isn't difficult, the complexity lies within getting the right mix of hot, sour, salty and sweet.

I was lucky enough after my year at Leiths School of Food and Wine to travel to Thailand and experience the food first hand. It was one of the countries that I'd always wanted to visit just for the food and I wasn't disappointed. I also spent a day at the Chiang Mai cookery school and got to meet Sompon Nambian who runs the school and whose TV program I used to follow religiously on a UK TV food channel.

I don't think I can convey enough how much I love Thai food. I'm quite happy to spend a fortune on ingredients to make the paste from scratch (and yes it makes all the difference). I like to make the pastes in a mortar and pestle ably assisted by my other half who does all the pounding (excuse the double entendre). A little tip when dealing with fibrous ingredients such as ginger, galangal and lemongrass is to grate them using a fine grater as it means you don't have as many fibres in your paste or curry.
As well as Thai green or red curry I love to make Hot and Sour soup and also a variation with coconut milk. I love this soup and its my go-to when I don't don't feel like strenuous cooking. It is a case of throwing the ingredients in a pot of water and giving it a bit of time and minimal effort to come out with something tasty and rewarding. I usually make the broth the day before and leave all the aromatics in overnight, it makes for a more flavoursome soup.

To make the broth
2 sticks lemongrass, bashed
Inch of ginger unpeeled
2 cloves garlic crushed
Bunch coriander stems or roots
2 shallots, quartered
1 tomato quartered
2 Lime leaves
4 mushrooms quartered
2 chillies (red or green)
1 litre or water or chicken stock  (If making prawn broth then use the shells from the uncooked prawns or fish stock)

Throw all the ingredients into a saucepan (you can also place them in gently if you wish)
Add the water and bring to the boil and then simmer for an hour on a low heat
Once it is ready, strain the stock and put to one side for later

For the soup
4 Lime leaves
20g coriander chopped
1 Tomato cut into eighths
5 mushrooms Thinly sliced
Juice of one lime
Tablespoon Fish sauce
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
Mange tout julienned
1 medium carrot julienned

Depending on what flavour you are going for either:

10 uncooked prawns or

Leftover roast chicken breast or thigh (chopped)
Sometimes I also like to use 100ml coconut milk

Bring the stock to a simmer
Add the tomato, mushrooms, chilli and lime leaves and simmer for 5 mins
Season with the soy, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice (you are looking for hot, sour, salty and sweet so add more of any of the seasonings to get the flavour you want).
Add the prawns and cook for another 5 mins
If adding coconut milk, then pour it in now and stir through
Garnish with the coriander

For the chicken version, add the coconut milk before the seasonings, and again adjust as necessary for the flavour you require.
Garnish with the coriander

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