This sour soup is traditionally made with chicken, beef or tofu, or seafood like fish or prawns, but this recipe is a little different, with mussels as the star protein.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (3 votes)


  • 15 mussels
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, soft white section only, finely chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed, finely chopped
  • 1 golf-ball size piece galangal, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped raw turmeric
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup tamarind paste
  • 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch water spinach


Rice cakes

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch
  • toasted rice, lemongrass and galangal, blended

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. Clean mussels, pulling off beards.
  2. Use a mortar and pestle to start pounding hard-to-grind ingredients: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. Add turmeric, garlic and shallot, and pound until ingredients are crushed and combined into a paste.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add spice paste and fry for 3–5 minutes, or until dry. Add tamarind paste and chicken stock.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make rice cakes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minutes, or until fragrant. Add chives and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Combine rice flour, tapioca starch and garlic mixture in a mixing bowl. Add enough water, stirring, to make a paste. Add toasted rice mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Roll rice mixture into small balls. Flatten into cakes.
  7. Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook rice cakes, in batches, for 2 minutes each side, or until golden. Set aside.
  8. Add cherry tomatoes and water spinach to chicken stock mixture. Add mussels and cover with a lid. Cook for 3–4 minutes, or until mussels are open. Serve soup with rice cakes.


This recipe is from Lee Chan's World Food Tour on SBS Food (Channel 33). Stream episodes via SBS On Demand.