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Tom Yum Soup (Goong, Talay, Pla-Meuk)

“Tom Yum” Soup (Goong, Talay, Pla-Meuk)
Spicy Tom Yum Soup is one of my all-time favorites and perhaps my favorite Thai food when it comes right down to it!

This soup is a little bit of effort but the reward is truly something to behold. When I first had this soup at a restaurant on Hillsboro Avenue in West Tampa I thought I was in a dream. I ordered this $7 soup and I was hoping it was going to be at least palatable… it was INCREDIBLE. The flavors that are in this soup, are so scrumptious that when I think about it – I must have it! Here in Thailand it’s easy to run out and get it. I typically pay about $1.50 USD for a bowl here in Thailand, but it’s even better when Joy or her mom decides to make it at home!

For you, it would be easy to find in any Thai restaurant. It’s something they must have or they are not THAI! 🙂

Ok, no more delay…

You should be able to find all the necessary ingredients in your local Asian, Chinese, or Thai grocery. There is a ready-made Tom Yum paste in small glass jars with pictures of brownish soybean oil and usually a Shrimp in the picture…. Galangal is a part of the ginger family. It’s a stubby root, light tan color, that resembles a cross between ginger and pepper. If you cannot find Tom Yum paste, a substitute is “Thai Red Curry” paste. Kaffir lime leaves are stiff and have an aromatic citrus-like smell and flavor.

In America they remove a lot of the ingredients from the bottom of the soup before serving. In Thailand, everything that is put in – stays in to increase the flavor. The lemongrass, Galangal, and red chili peppers continue to spice the soup as it is eaten. In Thailand we prefer this extra flavor, but it may prove too much for your tastes… as we say in Thailand, “Up to you!” Variations on this Tom Yum Goong (Shrimp) include substituting squid or sea food for the shrimp to give you “Tom Yum Pla-Meuk” or “Tom Yum Talay” respectively.

Yum Soup (Goong, Talay, Pla-Meuk)


1/2 pound medium sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
4 cups water
2 stalks of lemon grass (~10″ long)
4-6 kaffir lime leaves
3 small red onions cut into quarters
1 medium to large tomato
4 small pieces galangal
18 straw mushrooms, whole
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 limes, squeezed
1 teaspoon of white sugar
2-8 red and/or green chili peppers
1 tablespoon tom yum soup paste

Cooking Instructions:

1. Cut the lemongrass stalks into 2″ pieces.

2. If you are using Tom Yum paste you can use 2 tablespoons instead of making your own stock with tshis step. It will cut down on time necessary… Stock: Add the shrimp heads and shells to water, then cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Soak heads and shells for 20 more minutes before removing from broth.

3. Add stock, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili padi, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili paste to a pot and bring to a boil. After boiling for 5 minutes, add tomato and onion. In 5 more minutes add shrimp and mushrooms. Cook another 10 minutes. For presentation you can garnish with coriander.

Here is a video of some that we made at home… Tom Yum Soup!

We hope you enjoy it!

Sawasdee Ka - Joy

5 thoughts on “Tom Yum Soup (Goong, Talay, Pla-Meuk)

  • Pingback: Joys Top 5 Thai Food Specialty Recipes!

  • January 6, 2009 at 7:50 am

    how many does your recipe serve?

    i had a really good soup in Thailand that i thought was Tom Yum, it had kafir lime and lemongrass etc, but it had glass noodles in it too, the soup was really spicy, and the solids really cool, was this just tom yum stretched out a bit with noodles, or is this something else entirely?

    • January 6, 2009 at 8:06 am

      Hi Jamie,

      To me that almost sounds like Yum Woon-sen spicy salad… but, if it was a soup – I’m stumped. I’ll ask Joy what it is – she’s sleeping like a baby right now! – Vern

      • January 6, 2009 at 11:10 pm

        Joy said she thinks she had a soup like that in Bangkok once. It’s not a generally known soup – but in BKK they try different things sometimes and see if people like it. Obviously you liked it! Come back to Thailand – it’s dead around here – very few tourists! – Vern


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