Tom Yum Goong

Tom yum soup is possibly the most popular Thai dish, and also one of the most well-loved. Whenever I dine at a Thai restaurant, I will almost always order a bowl of tom yum soup because it’s simply irresistible! There are mainly two types of tom yum soup – the clear one and the red, milky one. I personally prefer the latter because the addition of nam prik pao (Thai roasted chilli paste) and coconut milk lends the soup a richer and more savoury flavour. I often find the clear soup not spicy enough to my liking, although the flavour of the bird’s eye chillies can be rather pronounced in some.

I personally think that tom yum soup is very easy to whip up, but the long list of ingredients may deter some people from trying it out. Additionally, ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal are not commonly found in a kitchen that prepares mainly Western or Chinese cuisine, so procuring the ingredients for a one-off use seems like a big waste. You may be tempted to omit these ingredients, but don’t! These are the ingredients that produce that distinct tom yum flavour and smell, and are pivotal in making a good tom yum soup. One interesting thing I noted is that this trio of ingredients is often used in Malay dishes, so if you have a lot of leftover lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves, you know what to do with them!

Here are the ingredients required for tom yum goong (tom yum soup with prawns) – prawns, prawn heads & shells, oyster mushrooms, lemongrass, lime, bird’s eye chillies, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, tomato, nam prik pao, evaporated milk and fish sauce (not in picture). If you prefer the clear version, simply leave out the nam prik pao and evaporated milk!

Boil the prawn heads and shells in a saucepot with 4 cups of water to extract its goodness.

Remove after boiling for about 4-5 minutes.

Add lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, bird’s eye chillies, tomato and oyster mushrooms to the saucepot and boil for about 3 minutes.

Add nam prik pao, evaporated milk, fish sauce & lime juice to the soup and stir well.

Lastly, add the prawns and cook until just tender. Prawns should go in last as they overcook easily, so if you want tender, juicy prawns, cook them last!

And it’s readyyyyy!

Yummmm! I love it when my soups are red, hot and spicy. If you don’t like the spice, simply cut down on the amount of bird’s eye chillies or nam prik pao. This dish also goes very well with thick white bee hoon! Tom yum goong is a relatively simply dish to make, but I do admit that it may be a little troublesome to purchase ingredients specially for the dish, only to have a lot of leftover unused ingredients at the end of the day. It makes sense to DIY if you’re going to prepare more than 4 servings at a time, otherwise having it at a restaurant would be a wiser choice.

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings 2


  • 10 prawns (shelled & deveined)
  • 10 prawn heads & shells ($5.25)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (cut into 3-inch strips & bruised) ($0.231)
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves ($0.08)
  • 10 slices  galangal ($0.08)
  • 6 bird's eye chillies (bruised) ($0.102)
  • 1 tomato (quartered) ($0.44)
  • 100 g 100 g oyster mushroom ($0.866)
  • 4 tbsp nam prik pao (Thai chilli paste) ($0.689)
  • 120 ml evaporated milk ($0.49)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce ($0.068)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice ($0.28)


  • Boil prawn heads & shells in a saucepot with 4 cups of water for about 4-5 minutes to extract the juices. Discard heads & shells after.
  • Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, bird's eye chillies, tomato & oyster mushrooms into saucepot and boil for about 3 minutes.
  • Add nam prik pao, evaporated milk, fish sauce & lime juice into saucepot and stir well.
  • Lastly, add prawns and cook until tender.
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