With its complex blend of herbs and signature salty-sour-spicy flavour, tom yum is the epitome of Thai cuisine – all in one bowl of soup.






Skill level

Average: 4.6 (4 votes)


  • 400 g (14 oz) tiger prawns (shrimp)
  • 1 litre (1 quart/4 cups) pork stock, chicken stock or water
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 4–8 red bird’s eye chillies, plus extra if necessary
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole small galangal root, cut into 5 pieces
  • 4 makrut lime leaves, torn
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra if necessary
  • 3 tbsp lime juice, plus extra if necessary
  • meat of 1 young coconut, torn, to garnish
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Peel and devein the prawns, placing the heads and shells in a colander and setting aside the prawn meat. Rinse the heads and shells under cold running water and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the stock and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the prawn heads and shells, bring to the boil and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until the red oil from the prawn heads begins to float on the surface. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid through a sieve into another large saucepan, pressing down on the heads and shells to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the heads and shells.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, bruise the chillies, lemongrass and galangal and place in the saucepan, along with the makrut lime leaves. Return the stock to the heat and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the fish sauce and prawns and simmer, uncovered, until the prawns change colour. Quickly remove from the heat and add the lime juice.
  5. Check the soup for seasoning; it should have a balance of salty, sour and spicy flavours. Adjust the seasoning with extra fish sauce, lime juice or bruised chillies if necessary.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the young coconut meat and coriander. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.


Recipe and images from Bangkok Local by Sareen Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99