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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup)

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 1

A while back, I received an email from a reader named Emily who said she uses the blog to stay in touch with her friend after she moved to Chicago, Illinois, and her friend stayed behind in Orlando, Florida. They browse through the blog, picking out recipes they want to try, and then compare notes.

She said they were talking about how delicious tom yum (Thai hot and sour soup) was and "immediately" searched the blog for a recipe. (I liked how she actually searched for the recipe before emailing me. Ha!)

Unable to find the recipe on my blog, she emailed me to request one. "There are other tom yum soup recipes available online but WE TRUST YOU," Emily said.

Awww. I asked her exactly how she and her friend used the blog to stay in touch?

"When she likes a recipe, she sends me the link the next day, and is like, 'You have to try this!'" Emily said, "I do and then I report back and we talk about the food, what we liked, what we didn't like. I remember we tried the Ultimate Stir Fry Sauce recipe and I used fish sauce for the first time. Yeah, I figured out I don't like fish sauce. LOL. We both really like all kinds of Asian food so it's fun to cook it at home!"

But why me? Why my recipes and not other sites?

Emily said her friend said the directions are clear, there are lots of pictures, and the recipes have turned out well. When she mentioned her friend's name, it made me realize that I had been corresponding with her friend as well, but hadn't made the connection between the two.

Rin, her friend in Orlando, had emailed me to say very complimentary things that I'll spare you from having to read. She also said the blog has helped her make food, that she had previously little exposure to, for her Vietnamese fiance. (Who's probably her husband by now by the time I got around to posting this.) She also asked what kind of food processor I use to grind my meats. Just a cheap one, but it serves its purpose.

Anyway, so much delayed, but here's my recipe for Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup). I consulted Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok's recipe because she's my trusted source for Thai food. Her recipe mentions the use of nam prik pao (Thai chili jam), which I remembered coming across on Chez Pim's blog. Rather than making the paste or buying a commercial version, I decided to save a step by incorporating the chili and tamarind ingredients into the stock for tom yum instead. The result is the spicy, sour flavor that I associate with the tom yum I've had in restaurants. The other important flavor profile is using shrimp heads and shells for that deep seafood taste.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 2

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup)

For a 2 quart pot, you'll need:
1 lb shrimp with heads, peeled and deveined, save the heads and shells
1/4 lb chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 or more dried chili pods
2 tblsp tamarind
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2-inch knob ginger, sliced
6 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 15-oz can straw mushrooms, or other mushroom of your choice

Optional: Additional kaffir lime leaves and cilantro for garnishing

Peel and devein the shrimp. Save the heads and shells and set aside.

Slice the chicken and set that aside with the shrimp as well.

Slice two shallots and two cloves of garlic. In a 3-quart pot on medium heat, add a generous drizzle of oil and add the shallots and garlic. Break two or three dried chili pods and lightly fry those with the garlic and shallots as well.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 3

When the garlic and shallots have started browning, add in the shrimp heads and shells.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 4

Stir that a little so the shrimp shells turn pink and toasted, then add 2 quarts water.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 5

Add about 2 tblsp tamarind, 2 stalks bruised lemongrass, 6 kaffir lime leaves, and 2-inch knob of ginger slices.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 6

Also add 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp palm or brown sugar, 2 tsp fish sauce, and the juice of 1 lime. Let the soup stock simmer for about half an hour.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 7

Then skim out all of the ingredients so you get a clean broth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 8

Then add shrimp, chicken, and mushrooms and let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 9

That's it.

This was a version with chicken and enoki mushrooms.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 10

Tom yum with shrimp and straw mushrooms.

Tom Yum Goong Kai (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp and Chicken Soup) 11

Garnish with additional kaffir lime leaves or cilantro if you wish.


My other hot and sour soups that you might like:
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Tom Kha Gai (Thai Galangal and Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk)

1 year ago today, my cousin designed my awesome header.
2 years ago today, Iceberg Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing. 
3 years ago today, frozen yogurt at the original Cefiore in Little Tokyo (Closed).


  1. I am salivating at the pictures. Now I have to read and relish this post.

  2. How heartwarming! I also think it's sweet that they reached out to you. I feel like a lot of times people will be regular readers, but never comment to say hi!

  3. Haha! this is funny because i was planning to go to Uwajimaya this weekend to get shrimp with heads on to make tom yum.

    Thanks for the love link!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Kitty,
    Haha. I love how you had to comment before even reading the post. :P

    I always love when my regular readers comment and email and have an ongoing conversation with me.

    You must have been feeling the vibes from this post! :)

    Haha. Well, I don't know if Wandering Chopsticks famous gets you very far... Maybe Emily just needs to try the right kind of fish sauce? Let me know if this recipe works for the two of you.

  6. My mouth waters just by reading this post. This recipe is surely in my must-try list..

  7. Shuhada,
    Thanks! Reminds me to make this soup again soon.

  8. Thank you for this recipe. I love your blog because you try to avoid a lot of premade seasonings (e.g., crab paste in Bun Rieu and caramel coloring). How can I modify this recipe to make a hot pot? Many recipes call for Tom Yum paste - what is it?

  9. Erin,
    Ha! I won't even go into rants about "recipes" that call for cans and boxed mixes. That's not a recipe!

    If you want tom yum hot pot, basically make the broth up to the point where you scoop out the shells and aromatics. That's your hot pot broth. Then add whatever meats and veggies and noodles you'd like.

    Tom yum paste usually has some of these ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, and chilies, along with a lot of msg. It's not bad if you find a blend you like, but as you can tell, I try to avoid pre-made seasonings when I can.


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