Tom yum soup is one of the best Thai Food recipes there is. Thai Cuisine would simply not be the same without it. Below are step-by-step image cooking directions. We hope you enjoy this Tom Yum Goong recipe and the shrimp head special sauce!
If you have ever eaten Thai food before, then chances are you know all about the special taste of the Tom Yum goong (Tom Yum Kung). This healthy Thai shrimp soup is low carb and gluten-free, suitable for ketogenic diets and Paleo diets too. It didn’t need any modifications to make it lower carb. Tom yum is naturally a low carb dish.
I like to add an avocado. It makes it more keto friendly and compliments it perfectly. However, a traditional Tom Yum recipe will never include avocado.
Tom Yum Goong (shrimp)
This is an authentic Tom Yum with shrimp recipe that includes a special shrimp head sauce not often found in other Tom Yum Goong recipes online (also spelled, Tom Yum Kung).
Before I moved to Thailand, I had never even eaten any 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.
These days my girlfriend Ling and I replicate low carb versions of our favorite Thai recipes. It’s mainly her cooking prowess that creates these recipes. I watch, learn, and follow orders. For a while, I always ate the chicken version (gai) or the less common Tom Yum Moo (pork). These days it’s only the shrimp Tom Yum that hits the spot every time.
2 Different Tum Yum Soup Recipes
- 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.
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. 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). The creamy Tom Yum soup made with coconut milk helps you get some healthy plant-based fat in your diet.
Tom Yum Shrimp Head Sauce:
This Tom Yum Shrimp Head Sauce makes this recipe even better. Cooking Tom Yum at home with fresh prawn or shrimp lets you enjoy this authentic version of it. You won’t find this shrimp head special sauce in many recipes online. Nor at most Thai restaurants.
The Tom Yum Shrimp Head Sauce is what makes this recipe so special. This sauce makes a big difference for the Tom Yum soup’s resulting flavor.
Keto & Paleo Diet Considerations:
Thai food and a ketogenic diet or Paleo diet go hand in hand. This Tom Yum soup recipe is a perfect compliment to anyone on any diet I think. It’s simply one of the very best soups in the world. Unless if you don’t like spicy food.
Step 1. Tom Yum Goong Recipe Ingredients
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! The fish sauce is used at the very end after all the cooking is complete.
Tom Yum Goong Ingredients list:
- Shrimp or Prawns
- Aroi-D Coconut Milk
- Thai Red Chili Paste
- Fish sauce
- Roma tomatoes
- Straw mushrooms
- Fresh kaffir lime leaves
At the bottom of this post I have listed out links to bu most of the harder to find ingredients online, as well as to a good mortar and pestle which is important to have when cooking Thai recipes.
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 started with the lemongrass, and smashed the stalks to bring out the flavor before slicing them into 1 inch pieces.
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 or don’t want to chew lemongrass.
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.
Looking to buy Tom Yum ingredients online? Here are links to some of them on Amazon:
Traditional Thai cooking uses a mortar and pestle.
I suggest picking one up that is made of granite. 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
Thanks for coming to our blog. We hope you enjoyed our Tom Yum Goong recipe and if you make it or want to share this post even better. For any questions or compliments please comment below.
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