Hot & Sour Seafood Soup (Tom Yum)

Recipes | Poaching | Soups Serves 6 as an entrée Hot & Sour Seafood Soup (Tom Yum)

Hot and sour soup is very popular in Thailand, where it’s called dtom yum (or tom yum). ‘Dtom’ means to boil and ‘yum’ to toss together, and these soups can be as basic or as complex as the cook wishes, but will always be flavoured with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and seasoned with chilli for heat, lime juice for sourness and fish sauce for saltiness.


¼ cup vegetable oil
500g green prawns, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
1½ litres water
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
6 thin slices galangal
3 kaffir lime leaves, crushed (see notes)
10 scud chillies, bruised 
⅓ cup tamarind liquid (see notes)
100g oyster mushrooms 
1 tomato, cut into wedges 
3 green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
200g Teraglin fillets, skin off, bones removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
250g Blue Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 lime, juiced, more or less to taste 
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more or less to taste
¼ cup coriander leaves


Heat oil in saucepan, add prawn heads and shells and cook, crushing often with the back of a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. 

Place water, lemongrass, prawn shells and the cooking oil into a large saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, discarding solids. Add galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chillies and simmer for a couple of minutes then add tamarind liquid, mushrooms, tomato, green onion, prawns, fish and mussels and cook for a few minutes until mussels open. 

Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and fish sauce, taste and add more lime juice or fish sauce to taste. Add coriander and serve.


Kaffir lime leaves are available from fruit and vegetable shops; they’re usually joined in pairs, 1 lime leaf equals 1 pair.

Dried tamarind pulp is sold in blocks at Asian grocery stores. To make tamarind liquid, work 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp into ½ cup of warm water then strain through a fine sieve, pressing down to remove as much tamarind as possible.

Alternative species:

Bream, Cuttlefish, Mullet, Pipis, Snapper, Squid.

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