Tom yum

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For the film, see Tom-Yum-Goong.
Tom Yam
Tom yam kung maenam.jpg
Tom Yam Kung as served in Bangkok, Thailand
Alternative names Tom Yum
Type Soup
Place of origin Central Thailand
Associated national cuisine Thai
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients stock, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, chili peppers
Cookbook: Tom Yam  Media: Tom Yam

Tom yum (rtgstom yam, Thai: ต้มยำ,  [tôm.jām]) is a Thai soup, usually cooked with shrimp.[1] Tom yum is widely served in countries neighbouring Thailand, such as Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore, and has become popular around the world.

Literally, the name "tom yam" derives from two Thai words: "tom" and "yam". "Tom" refers to the boiling process, while "yam" refers to a Thai spicy and sour salad. Indeed, tom yum has distinct hot and sour flavours, with fragrant spices and herbs generously used in the broth. The basic broth comprises stock and fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers.

Commercial manufacturers of tom yum paste crush all the herb ingredients and stir-fry them in oil, then add seasoning and other preservative ingredients. The bottled or packaged paste is sold around the world. Tom yum flavored with the paste may have different characteristics from that made with fresh herb ingredients. The soup often includes meats such as chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp.

Some commentators call the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which started in Thailand, the "tom yam kung crisis".[2][3]


Tom yum originated in Laos and Thailand.[4]


Tom yam kung maphrao on nam khon, Uttaradit, Thailand
Ready-to-use bundles of lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves, and, for chicken tom yum, also turmeric, are sold at Thai markets
  • Tom yum goong (Thai: ต้มยำกุ้ง) or tom yam kung, the version of the dish most popular among tourists, is made with prawns as the main ingredient.[5] The dish originated during the Rattanakosin Kingdom.[6]
  • Tom yam pla (Thai: ต้มยำปลา) is a clear fish soup traditionally eaten with rice. It used to be the most widespread form of tom yam before mass-tourism came to Thailand, for fresh fish is readily available almost everywhere in the region's rivers, canals, and lakes as well as in the sea. Usually fish with firm flesh that doesn't crumble after boiling is preferred for this type of soup.[7]
  • Tom yum gai (Thai: ต้มยำไก่) or tom yam kai is the chicken version of the soup.[8]
  • Tom yum po taek (Thai: ต้มยำโป๊ะแตก) or tom yam thale (Thai: ต้มยำทะเล) is a variant of the soup with mixed seafood, like prawns, squid, clams, and pieces of fish.[9]
  • Tom yam nam khon (Thai: ต้มยำน้ำข้น) is a more recent variation. Almost always made with prawns as a main ingredient. A little milk[10] or coconut milk[11] is added to the broth as a finishing touch, and then balanced with some toasted dried chillies. This adaptation is not to be confused with tom kha gai ("chicken galanga soup"), where galanga is the dominant flavour of the coconut milk-based soup.
  • Tom yam kung maphrao on nam khon (Thai: ต้มยำมะพร้าวอ่อนน้ำข้น), a version of prawn tom yum with the meat of a young coconut and a dash of (coconut) milk.
  • Tom yam kha mu (Thai: ต้มยำขาหมู), made with pork leg. It requires lengthy cooking over a low fire.[12]

In the modern popularized versions the soup contains also mushrooms, usually straw mushrooms or oyster mushrooms. The soup is often topped with generous sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Sometimes Thai chili jam (nam phrik phao, Thai: น้ำพริกเผา) is added. This gives the soup a bright orange color and makes the chili flavor more pronounced.

Other sour and spicy soups[edit]

Less well-known outside Thailand is tom khlong (ต้มโคล้ง), a spicy sour soup where the sourness, however, does not derive from lime juice but through the use of tamarind.[13] Tom som (Thai: ต้มส้ม) are soups that are also very similar to tom yum but most often do not contain lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Depending on the type of tom som, the acidity can be derived from lime juice or from the use of tamarind.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tom Yam Kung: Not only tasty but with medicinal properties". Thaiways Magazine. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  2. ^ From Tom-yam-kung To Hamburger Crisis (in Thai)
  3. ^ For example: Townsend, Robert M.; Sakunthasathien, Sombat; Jordan, Rob (2013). Chronicles from the Field: The Townsend Thai Project. MIT Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780262314169. Retrieved 2016-05-18. In July 1997 the lights went out in Thailand. [...] The government left intense market speculation and a ballooning foreign debt unchecked, leading to a sudden, massive devaluation of the Thai baht. In the days that followed the devaluation, the Tom Yam Kung Crisis, named for a famous Thai shrimp soup, began in Thailand and spread throughout eastern Asia. 
  4. ^ "Tom Yum Gai – Suwanee's Kitchen". Chiang Rai Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "Tom Yam Kung". Thaiways Magazine. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Tom Yam Kung Recipe, Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp". Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Merry's Kitchen—Sour and Spicy Chicken Soup (Tom Yam Kai)". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Leela (2012-02-07). "Creamy Tom Yam Kung (Tom Yam Kung Nam Khon ต้มยำกุ้งน้ำข้น)". Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  11. ^ Hanuman Thaifoodmaster. "[Thaifoodmaster] Fresh Coconut Milk Tom Yum Soup Recipe of Grilled Banana Blossom and Chicken (สูตรทำต้มยำกะทิหัวปลีย่างใส่ไก่)". Thaifoodmaster. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "ต้มยำขาหมู". YouTube. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Tom klong pla krob (ต้มโคล้งปลากรอบ)
  14. ^ "Clay's Kitchen: Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Clay's Kitchen: Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 

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