Tom yum soup is one of the best things about Thai Food. Without it, Thai Cuisine would be slightly less amazing.
Before I moved to Thailand, I had never even eaten a Tom Yum soup. Then 4 years ago, my life flipped upside down in a very good way when I moved to Thailand and discovered Thai food.
After happily eating Thai food every day for the last 4+ years, my girlfriend (who is an excellent chef) and I began to turn authentic Thai recipes into low carb Thai recreations. We did this in order to aid the ketogenic diet I use for parts of the year. It’s always good to have low carb options.
In order to support how I eat and still be able to enjoy my favorite type of food every day, we started replicating low carb versions of our favorite Thai recipes.
Some authentic Thai recipes require no alterations whatsoever, like this Tom Yum Goong. Others require soy sauce or sugar alternatives in order to make them a bit healthier and lower carb.
Thai food, in general, is the perfect compliment to a ketogenic diet or a Paleo lifestyle. And this Tom Yum soup recipe is a perfect compliment to anyone on or not on, any diet. It’s simply the best soup in the world…
Whether you’ve enjoyed Thai food in the states, in your home country, or here in Thailand.. if you have eaten Thai food before, chances are you know what Tom Yum is.
My new favorite Tom Yum soup variation is Tom Yum Goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง).
For a while, I always went with the gai (chicken) or the less common Tom Yum Moo (pork).
These days, I eat less meat and more seafood, so I eat a lot of Tom Yum Soups with Goong (shrimp).
- The Two Types of Tum Yum Soup
- Step 1. Tom Yum Goong Ingredients
- Step 2. Shrimp Head Special Sauce
- Step 3. Smash and Chop
- Step 4. Tom Yum Soup Broth
- Step 5. Use the shrimp broth you just made
- Step 6. Enjoy your Tom Yum Soup
- Tom Yum Soup (Goong) Printable Recipe Card
The Two Types of Tum Yum Soup
- Tom Yum Nam Khon is a creamy version (made with coconut milk or evaporated milk).
- The other is a clear version called Tom Yum Nam Sai.
Depending on where I am ordering, I’ll do the creamy version or the clear. They both have the potential to be amazing (depends on who’s cooking). I usually opt for the creamy one to help fill my day’s fat nutrients (with coconut milk).
I learned about the distinctions of the two different kinds a while back, but when looking around online I discovered the great food blog called Eating Thai Food. Our Tom Yum Recipes are slightly different, but he’s got great Thai recipes and explains the difference between these two soups nicely.
When eating out, I will confirm with them how they cook it before ordering. It’s hit or miss when eating out. I’d say most places will not make the shrimp head fat sauce, but I’ve yet to confirm this. I need to learn how to ask if they do this in Thai (I’m still working on my Thai language abilities!)
What makes our Tom Yum Soup So Special?
It is the Tom Yum special shrimp head sauce…
When we cook this at home, it not only has coconut milk, but it also has an authentic shrimp head special sauce.
You won’t find this shrimp head sauce in many recipes online. It makes a big difference for the Tom Yum soup’s flavor, so if you’re cooking this one at home, and you want the extra flavor and some extra healthy fats, I’d highly recommend doing this easy step.
So now let me jump into the recipe.
We included tons of images, so you can see clearly, how to make the special sauce, as well as the rest of this amazing, tantalizing and traditional brothy, Tom Yum Goong.
Step 1. Tom Yum Goong Ingredients
Get your ingredients ready.
The fish sauce is used at the very end after all the cooking is complete.
|Tom Yum Goong Ingredients|
|Shrimp or Prawns|
|Aroi-D Coconut Milk|
|Thai Red Chili Paste|
|Fresh kaffir lime leaves|
You can easily find a lot of the harder to attain ingredients on Amazon.
I’ve included links below to products on Amazon. You can even find fresh kafir lime leaves, it’s so convenient!
Tom Yum Goong Ingredients:
And if you are looking to use a mortar and pestle like traditional Thai cooking uses, I suggest picking one up that is made of granite. You can find wooden or ceramic ones, but granite is best by far. You can use the granite pestle to sharpen your knives too!
Granite Mortar and Pestle
- Granite mortar pestle; infuse new appetizing blends of fresh or dried spices and herbs into your favorite recipes
- Premium quality granite mortar is heavy, well balanced and suitable for rigorous pounding and grinding
- The pestle design allows for easy maneuvering and effortless grinding
- Granite's non-porous quality allows for extracting the oils from herbs and spices without these oils being absorbed into the stone
- Polished granite exterior is easy to clean
Back to the recipe. We’re going to make the special sauce first.
Next, heat up some water in a pan and get ready to get your hands a little dirty.
Let us make the shrimp head special sauce. They key is to use fat from inside all shrimp heads. If you don’t buy fresh shrimp or prawns, you can’t really do this step. Regardless, without the shrimp head sauce, you’ll still make a delicious Tom Yum if you follow all the rest of the steps.
Step 2. Shrimp Head Special Sauce
Pull off the meaty bodies (you’ll use these in just a minute) and get all the shrimp head fat into a strainer, like so.
Get as much as you can into a bowl underneath the strainer:
It comes off pretty easily.
The trick is to smash it through with a spoon.
You’ll want to detach the meaty bodies, set those aside, then use the shrimp head left over to make this.
It should look something like this as you take out the shrimp heads and squeeze their fat through the strainer into the bowl:
This is the hardest part.
After this, you mix in the Thai Chili Paste.
You can find this same brand on Amazon. It’s a good one. No MSG, and no bad stuff.
When you’re cooking Thai food, you kinda need these things, so although you can get away without using Thai chili paste, it’s an integral part. The trick is to get all natural ones, as just as with chicken bouillon, there are ones out there that possess artificial ingredients and MSG.
Here’s the one. You can easily find and buy this Maepranom Thai Brand Red Thai Chili Paste on Amazon.
Next, add coconut milk.
You can also use canned evaporated milk, but if you’re shooting for optimal health, which is something I always am, I try to stick to the healthiest ingredients I can.
Aroy-D coconut milk is great for cooking all Thai food that calls for coconut milk. It’s a perfect complement to Thai dishes and to your morning coffee too! If you’re not a fan of coconut or MCT oil, yet you still want some MCT health benefits, give some coconut milk a try you might enjoy it or its effects.
On a random note, sometimes I will use coconut milk and organic cacao powder in my coffee instead of grass-fed butter when I’m shooting for a fat-filled morning coffee.
You should be able to find Aroy-D at your local grocery store or Asian market.
The end product of the special shrimp head sauce should look something like this:
Step 3. Smash and Chop
Next, comes the veggie chopping.
Lemongrass, galangal, shallots, and coriander.
We’ll start with the lemongrass. Smash the stalks to bring out the flavor before you slice them.
I find lemongrass most enjoyable when cut into semi-large pieces.
I italicize “semi-large” because often you’ll find lemongrass that is thinly sliced. If it’s not thin enough, it is hard to eat. This can be annoying if you’re not used to it.
Lemongrass gives the tom yum soup such an amazing flavor. I’d recommend doing 1-inch pieces of stalk, or to chop thinly and then just consume it with the soup. It’s a very fibrous plant.
Then the galangal.
Galangal looks and tastes similar to ginger, but it is very different and cannot be substituted for with ginger.
Galangal should be sliced thinly, in order to maximize the flavor drawn out. All tom yum soup recipes you’ll see have this glorious root within them. If you cannot attain fresh galangal, dried will work as well.
Unlike the lemongrass which you can smash or wack against a hard surface to start bringing out its flavors, galangal requires slicing thin and cooking.
Then slice the shallots like so.
And lastly, the coriander.
The coriander you won’t use until the very end. When you make the shrimp broth (step 3) you’ll use the coriander roots. So make sure to not throw those out.
Step 4. Tom Yum Soup Broth
Here is where you’ll use the coriander roots.
Now that you took out the shrimp head fat and made a “special tom yum sauce” with it, you’ll use everything left over for the shrimp broth.
- the empty shells left behind
- the shrimp itself
- the pieces of head leftover inside this pot of hot water
Boil a hot pot of water and use these in order to create your hearty tom yum shrimp broth.
They all go in your heating pot of water, like so:
This is why you don’t throw these away after emptying them. Not every tom yum soup recipe will have this step either. But an authentic tom yum soup recipe should.
Here you can see the coriander roots used:
Cook the shrimp all the way through. They should turn white and meaty.
This will be the bulk of the cooking process.
Strain your prawn or shrimp into a big bowl.
After you strain, you can toss the shells.
Then put all that strained broth back into the pot.
Step 5. Use the shrimp broth you just made
We’ll use the chopped vegetables now.
Put the shallots, galangal, lemongrass and coriander roots into the pot full of the shrimp broth you just made.
It should look like this:
Still waiting to be used are the following:
- kefir lime leaf
- grape tomatoes
- And a bowl with the vibrant, red special shrimp head sauce with the freshly cooked shrimp now placed inside its bowl…
Next, put ALL into the pot EXCEPT for the freshly chopped coriander and kefir lime leaves.
The mushrooms take some time to cook, so let them cook for a few minutes before proceeding to add the kefir lime leaves.
If the neighbor’s cats are starting to hound you, it means that you’re cooking it up just right.
Here is White, my next door neighbor’s cat who is always here, especially when we’re cooking.
We usually give her some of the goods. She eats the chicken bones, shrimp shells, geckos, baby chickens.
She’s a lover of humans and a monster to anything else.
Back to the recipe…
Next, put the shrimp head special sauce and the cooked shrimp inside the pot.
Then the kafir lime leaves.
We’re almost done at this point.
The aroma filling your kitchen should be starting to fill the house and making everyone salivate.
Next, smash your chili peppers and put them in a bowl with the chopped cilantro:
In this same bowl, you need to add a bit of fish sauce and freshly squeezed lime juice.
No Tom Yum Soup is complete without fresh lime!
And that’s it!
We’re done at this point.
The reason you don’t want to put the lime juice, fish sauce, and peppers into the hot cooking pot of Tom Yum Goong is that it’ll evaporate the flavors.
It’s best to have those as additions to your freshly cooked Tom Yum.
Put it all in the bowl, and you’re done!
Step 6. Enjoy your Tom Yum Soup
One thing I do when I want to get some extra fats in, especially when I don’t eat this with a side of white rice or a side of cauliflower rice, is I add some fresh avocado.
Maybe it’s the Mexican in me. Or maybe it’s the low carb high fat keto thing. But adding avocado is a perfect compliment to Tom Yum Goong. Although I am told by my girlfriend every time I do it that it’s blasphemy to the Tom Yum Goong. It’s very delicious with avocado though!
The Keto Tom Yum Soup..
A traditional Tom Yum Goong..
Without the avocado.
It seems pretty involved, but really, it’s an easy dish to make that has the power to impress anyone you cook it for.
It’s gluten-free, and you can make it more lectin-free by stripping the tomatoes of their skin and deseeding them. As well as possibly leaving out the smashed chili peppers after cooking with them.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out our Tom Yum Soup recipe. It’s very much appreciated and we’d love to know if you cooked it yourself based off of this recipe!
One last Tom Yum beauty shot from above.
I made a video version of the recipe which may be useful for you to use, for sharing or cooking purposes.
The cool little Marley styled background tune is not Thai music, so I’ll have to put together some suitable-for-Youtube Thai tracks and fix them into the recipe videos in the future. There is great Thai music to be listened to. Thais are wonderful musicians and songwriters. That would be great if I was able to share some of them with these videos.
Here’s the Tom Yum Soup recipe video.
Thanks for coming to our blog.
I hope you enjoyed our Tom Yum Goong recipe!
For any questions or compliments, please leave me a comment below.
Cheers and thanks again for being here!
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