Tom Yum

I’ve been craving for some Thai food since last week, specifically Tom Yum soup, which I used to have regularly when I lived in Cambodia. It’s a fairly easy simple dish to make, although making the Tom Yum paste from scratch can be quite complicated because some of the ingredients are difficult to find here in Manila. In Cambodia, my housekeeper was perfectly capable of doing it; if she was pressed for time Knorr Tom Yum Cubes are readily available and it’s also a good substitute. When I went to the supermarket early this week I browsed in the ‘Asian’ section and I was pleasantly surprised to spot bottles of instant Tom Yum Paste. I took one and immediately bought 1/4 kg of large shrimps and the other ingredients for Tom Yum Kung (Kung is shrimp in Thai). I cooked it from memory so the measurements in this recipe I’m sharing might be incomplete. Like I said, it’s quite easy to make, especially since I had the instant Tom Yum paste in hand.

Tom Yum Kung (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)


  • 1/4 kg large shrimp (the traditional dish calls for shrimp to be shelled and de-veined but I didn’t remove the shell and just cut the sharp tips of the head because I think the head packs a lot of flavor)
  • Tom Yum paste, about 2 tbsp.
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup of leeks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup straw mushrooms, halved (I used canned mushrooms)
  • juice of 2 Dayap (Lime)
  • 4 cups rice washing (plain water will do)
  • 1 Siling Labuyo or Finger Chili, chopped coarsely (optional)
  • Fish sauce or Patis,  about 2 tbsp



  1. Put the rice washing or water in a pan over medium flame. Add 2 tbsp of the Tom Yum paste, stir well and bring to boil. The amount of paste will depend on how hot you want the soup to be. Adjust according to your preference.
  2. Add tomatoes, red onion, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and leeks. Bring to boil then reduce heat. Add the mushrooms. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes so the flavors meld together. Season with fish sauce. Add the finger chili if using.
  3. Add the shrimp and let it cook for about 5-8 minutes then turn off the flame.
  4. Right before serving, add the lime juice. Garnish with cilantro or coriander leaves. Serves 4.


  • Technically, the Tom Yum Paste already has lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and galangal. I added the lemongrass because we have it in our backyard and I happened to have some fresh Kaffir lime leaves. Notice I didn’t even list galangal among the ingredients. This is because galangal is quite hard to find in the market.
  • Aside from shrimp, I have eaten Tom Yum Soup with chicken (breast, cut into strips), fish (cubed or fillet), mussel (and other shellfish), and even tofu, both soft and firm (cubed and fried crisp).




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