Tom Yam Kung is the Thai name given to probably the most popular spicy seafood soup emanating from Thailand. So much so that it's fast becoming extremely well known throughout the rest of the world. You need only visit the tropical paradise once to be aware of its superior classic proportions. This hot spicy shrimp soup is exquisitely complimented with many mouthwatering ingredients such as mushrooms, red chilli peppers, lemongrass, scallion, cilantro and kaffir lime leaves, as well as the famous "Nam pla" fish sauce.
12 Jumbo shrimps (shelled)
4 Cups chicken stock or water
3 Lemongrass stalks (roots trimmed)
8 Kaffir Lime leaves (torn)
4 Fresh hot red chilli peppers (seeded and thinly sliced)
1 Cup of fresh button or straw mushrooms (shiitake mushrooms can also be used)
2 Tablespoons scallion or spring onions (chopped)
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
3 Tablespoons *Nam Pla (fish sauce)
4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh coriander (chopped)
*Nam Pla is a fish sauce made from salted anchovies which are placed into wooden barrels for fermentation to occur. The sauce itself does not actually impart a fishy flavour, but it does accentuate the taste of food.
1) Remove shells and pull out vein from shrimps and set aside. Place the shells in a strainer and rinse under cold water then put them into a large saucepan. Add chicken stock or water and bring to the boil.
2) Bruise the lemongrass stalks and cut the kaffir lime leaves roughly using a scissor or serrated knife. Place the lemongrass and half the lime leaves into the water with or without the chicken stock. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for 5-6 minutes until stock becomes fragrant.
3) Strain the stock and place into a clean saucepan and return to heat. Add mushrooms (sliced if needed) and whole shrimps. Add coconut milk only as an option. Cook for a further 6-8 minutes or until shrimps turns pink. If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, you need to soak them first in water for an hour before thinly slicing.
4) Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, scallions, chillies, cilantro leaves and the remaining lime leaves. Add salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. The end result of your freshly prepared Tom Yam Kung Shrimp Soup should be spicy, salty, sour and hot. Garnish with coriander and serve.
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