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Those who order this soup again and again in Thailand's street-food stalls will get a range of «Tom Yam Gung» variants – with the simpler preparations often being tastier. Cooks at the night market in the harbour of Krabi.

Tom Yam Gung

Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup

This Thai classic is often made with chicken stock. There's no great reason for that, really. One can as easily extract a wonderfully flavoursome juice out of shrimp, which makes the soup far more interesting. In truely traditional recipes there is no use of galangal, mushroom or tomato – more baroque interpretations make use of garlic and a clear pinch of sugar, which, in our opinion, distorts the marvellous spicy-and-sour character of «Tom Yam Gung». Here we reproduce the recipe used by Raina and Gobli's fabulous cook Lun, who prepared this soup with her nimble hands for their guest Hektor Maille – on the evening after the rather unproductive boat-ride with the lovely Jelena Jansson.

Ingredients (for 4 persons)

12 average sized shrimps, raw

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons palm sugar (or 1 teaspoon white sugar)

6 chillies, of the Bird's Eye type, stalk removed and slightly pounded in a mortar (the milder the soup shall be, the more of the seeds can be removed)

1 heaped tablespoon coriander geen

3 stalks lemon grass, in pieces of about 3 cm and slightly squeezed in the mortar

6 leaves kaffir lime

1 piece galangal of about 20 g, cleaned and sliced

1 tomato, peeled and chopped into 8 parts

50 g oyster mushrooms, cleaned and ripped into stripes

A elegant way to serve the shrimp with it's carapace in order to keep the meat specially juicy: Tom Yam Gung on a night market in Bangkok.


  1. Clean the shrimps under running water, peel them and set the meet from the tails aside. Put the heads an the carapaces in a pot, add one litre of cold water and 2 teaspoons of salt, bring to boil and simmer slightly for 5 to 10 minutes or a bit longer (in any case no longer than 15 to minutes – otherwise the broad will have a shallow taste). While cooking a slightly reddish and oily foam appears on the surface. Stir from time to time.
  2. Put the raw shrimp-tails in a big and heatproof bowl (if possible the one you will serve the soup in later). Add the lime juice, fish sauce, chilis and coriander green and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. Stir from time to time.
  3. Poor the broad trough a finely woven sieve and press on the carapaces in order to get the juice out of them. One can also slightly beat on the border of the sieve in order to accelerate the run-off of the juice.
  4. Add fish sauce and sugar to the broad.
  5. A few minutes before serving the soup: Bring the broad to boil, add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add mushrooms and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  7. Add the tomato to the shrimps and poor the hot broad over it. After 1 minute the shrimps are perfectly cooked.
Tom Yam Gung and other delicacies in a street restaurant on a khlonng in Bangkok.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

As hard as Maille found it to get Jelena Jansson to speak to him, as easy did he find it to conjure up the following menu under the direction of cook Lun:

First Publication: 30-1-2010

Modifications: 25-1-2011, 19-6-2011, 14-11-2011, 14-12-2011