Tom yum is a name for two similar soups
originating from Laos and Thailand, respectively. The Royal Lao version
includes a pinch of rice in the soup, whereas typical Lao and Thai
versions do not include rice as an ingredient.
Left: Tom yum goong.
Lao tom yum is relatively unknown
outside of Laos, whereas Thai tom yum is perhaps one of the most famous dishes
in Thai cuisine. It is widely served in neighboring countries such as Malaysia,
Singapore, and Indonesia, and has been popularized around the world.
Tom yum is characterized by its distinct hot and sour flavors, with fragrant
herbs generously used. The basic broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients
such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice,
fish sauce and
crushed chili peppers.
In Thailand, tom yum is usually made with prawns (tom yum goong), chicken (tom
yum gai), fish (tom yum pla), or mixed seafood (tom yum talay or tom yum po
taek) and mushrooms - usually straw or oyster mushrooms. The soup is often
topped with generous sprinkling of fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves. In
Laos, tom yum is typically made with fish or chicken, but freshwater prawns are
Commercial tom yum paste is made by crushing all the herb ingredients and
stir-frying in oil. Seasoning and other preservative ingredients are then added.
The paste is bottled or packaged, and sold around the world. Tom yum flavored
with the paste may have different characteristics to that made with fresh herb