Recipe: Tom yum soup

Thai food is simple, tasty and healthy. Here’s a home-cooking recipe for Tom yum soup:

Serves 2 to 4


5 or 6 cloves of garlic

Ginger, size of two thumbs

Galangal, finger-sized piece

2 Lemongrass stalks

Onion, red, half


Thai basil

Fish sauce

1 (or more) red chilli

1 or 2 big tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube

1 bell pepper, yellow, red or green – the decision, is yours

1 lime


beef flank (one piece … about 300g)


red chilli powder (hot or medium, up to you)


The best thing about Thai cooking is that more or less you just need to grab a load of ‘Thai stuff’ and fry it, then soup it. This recipe conforms to that ethos, and God bless it for doing so:

Chop the garlic, ginger, galangal, onions, slice the peppers and chilli(es), crush the lemongrass. Very finely slice some lime zest (no white pith!).

Fry them all together in a big saucepan on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring so nothing burns. If it’s all getting too frantic then turn the heat to medium-low for another 5 minutes.

Splash in just a little fish sauce, and lime juice when it’s cooking.

After the 15 minutes, break the chicken stock cube into 4 (or some small) pieces and add. Pour over boiling water, roughly a litre / 2 pints, or however much you think will feed your 1 to 4 people this could be for.

(alternative to chicken stock cube = before pouring water, remove all into a bowl. Fry 6+ chicken wings on a medium heat for 5 minutes – THEN add boiling water and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes – then re-add everything)


On the lowest heat, let it go for 10 minutes.

You will have pre-cooked your beef flank, by simmering it in water (with pepper, a few tablespoons of soy sauce and good sprinkle of Chinese five-spice) on the lowest heat for about 3 hours.

Add the sliced beef flank. If you want it with prawns, then add the prawns for the final (at least) 3 minutes so they are cooked.

Sprinkle in the red chilli powder – this gives it a lovely red flavour – but of course only do it to taste!

You will then balance the flavour between more fish sauce and sugar. Something like two to three tablespoons of fish sauce and an equal amount of sugar works well with this quantity, but it’s to your taste.

Squirt in lime juice to your taste.

Add ripped coriander, and Thai basil if you like it.

When serving, remember that all is edible except the lemongrass, ginger (unless you like it sliced very finely, I don’t in this recipe, I leave it chunky) and galangal.


A rogue broccoli also joined the party

Where can you buy the ingredients in Shanghai?:

All of the ingredients can be found in City Super in the IFC mall, Lujiazui – except galangal, which can be found in City Shop, in Portman. City Shop also sometimes stock real Thai turmeric, but not always. If you can’t find galangal, it’s no big deal. City Shop is also much more reliable for lemongrass.


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Categories: Food


Foreigner in Shanghai


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