Mighty Tom Yam Goong

After learning from last week’s mistakes, I’ve finally perfected my mighty tom yam goong!

The usual stuff. Sliced galangal ginger, crushed lime leaves, bruised lemon grass, chilli padi, shallots. That’s a lot of injured herbs, but these are signature ingredients in Thai cooking – especially the lemon grass. Once the herbs are ready, boil up the mixture with fish or chicken stock.

Once everything is boiling and tumbling around, stir in a tablespoon of Thai chilli paste. This makes the soup nice, red and spicy. Don’t add too much chilli paste if you don’t like it too spicy.

Next, the star ingredient of the whole dish – the goong (prawns) but I’ve also included some pla meuk (squid) just to add some value to the soup. Of course, also some oyster mushrooms to balance out the meaty flavours.

Wait a minute. What about the sourness of tom yam? I think it’s a good idea to add your lime juice last, after the heat has been turned off. Cooking lime juice tends to destroy some of the fresh citrus flavours. I used about 6 limes in this pot of soup. Don’t forget the fish sauce. Tom yam tastes fishy because it drives all its saltiness from fish sauce. I’ve tasted it. Pretty close to restaurant standards.

© Chan Joon Yee

Chan Joon Yee is the author of Spellbound in Chiangmai, a collection of short stories based on sheltered and simple Singaporeans’ misadventures in the Land of Smiles.