Of Bangkok and Tom Yum.


I have to admit that, amongst the food that i don’t particularly fancy (and there are plenty, trust me- steamed fish, raw tomatoes, dragonfruit) i never thought in my wildest dream i would grow to like or even love tom yum. Yes, i used to turn my nose up at it, refusing to take even a sip of it, each time a friend (and i have no lack of friends who love their tom yum- it seems to be a Malaysian thing) happily slurped a huge bowl of it up.

But oh how things took a change on my most recent trip to Bangkok last month. I guess you could say it started really because of one of my best friend C’s obsession with tom yum. Every food court we ate at, she would place an order for Tom Yum soup each time without fail. So after seeing countless of bowls of tom yum plonked down beside me, i decided i had to give it another shot to see what all the fanfare with it was.

One tiny sip was all i took but it was all that was needed to start my own love affair with this classic Thai dish. It was like i had never tasted it before- while the hot and sour soup had never appealed to me before, i was now blown away by the symphony of flavours, all in perfect harmony, is this seemingly simple dish.

So of course when i arrived back on my sunny little island, i just had to try my hand at this dish.


As it turns out, tom yum really is quite easy to make- in fact it can whipped up easily within twenty minutes. As with all Thai dishes, you do need to keep tasting as you go along to get that perfect balance of the sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavours. The recipe below is for the tom yum soup i played around with till my taste buds were happy and kept me one happy little camper as i sat in the garden, slurping down my soupy noodles and admiring the results of my dad’s hard work in the garden.

Tom Yum Goong [adapted from Simply Thai Cooking]


4 cups water
3 stalks lemon grass, crushed with a pestle
6 lime leaves, torn into three strips
1 5cm knob of galangal root, sliced thinly and lightly crushed
4 chili padis, sliced in half and lightly crushed
4 small buttom mushrooms, halved
300g shrimps, shelled and deveined
2 small limes, juiced
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
Mung bean vermicelli, soaked in hot water for ten minutes

  1. In a large pot, bring the water to boil. Add lemon grass, lime leaves and galangal. Let boil for about 2 minutes to allow flavours to infuse and mingle. Add fish sauce, chili and sugar.
  2. Keeping the water boiling, add mushrooms, shrimps and lime juice. Taste and adjust accordingly- soup should be slightly spicier and sourish than sweet and salty. Add softened vermicelli and serve immediately. Serves 4


tom-yum-seaweed-2.jpgAs with my obsessive nature currently fixated on everything tom yum, i just had to buy this bag of deep fried tom yum flavoured seaweed. It is really good- taste more like tom yum than the packets of ‘tom yum’ flavoured instant noodles i’ve been feasting on since returning from my trip. I’ve seen packets of these selling practically everywhere in Singapore if you wondering where to get them- the original and tom yum flavours are my favourite!

Leave a comment


  1. Sorry for not leaving a comment for such a long time, heh :) anyway I love tomyam, as long as it’s not way too spicy for my mouth to handle, because I’m not really good at eating spicy stuff. I still do enjoy belachan though :D

    I think what makes tomyam so unique is the sour smell… it’s a different kind of sour, unlike those pungent ones from lemon, lime or even worse, fouling food. I went to Bangkok 3 years back and I must say that their tomyam is definitely the best, and so far I’m yet to see nay restaurant being able to replicate the authentic thai tomyam :)

    Seafood goes BEST with tomyam, for some reason. I like scallops and prawns in my tomyam soup!

  2. Hey Teddy,

    I totally agree that there is just something different from the authentic tom yam, as opposed to the ones served in Thai restaurants. And yeah, i can’t imagine having anything else other than seafood in my tom yam- the sweetness of the seafood definitely makes it all the more scrumptious!


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