Spicy and ear-tinglingly bitter, this traditional Thai soup is simply what I fancy right now of 12 months: it’s one thing to chop by the nice, festive fug and reset the senses. Although shellfish are a standard ingredient, this soup is nearly endlessly adaptable, even for vegans: so long as it vibrates with flavour – fragrant lime leaves and lemongrass, warming galangal and recent citrus – you’re heading in the right direction.
Prep 12 min
Cook dinner 15 min
16 uncooked shell-on king prawns
1 sprint vegetable oil
4 recent makrut lime leaves
2 lemongrass stalks
2 thick slices galangal
2 fowl’s eyes chillies
1 tbsp palm sugar, or gentle brown sugar
Juice of 1½ limes
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 handful coriander or Thai basil leaves, to serve
1 A word on the prawns
You’ll want uncooked, shell-on prawns right here. Frozen are tremendous, as long as they’re defrosted and gentle sufficient to shell, but when your prawns are very massive (or very small), alter the portions accordingly. If you will discover solely shelled prawns, use a litre of sunshine fish or rooster inventory (and even simply water), and begin from step 3.
2 Make a inventory with the prawn shells
Shell the prawns, retaining the shells and heads, and put aside the meat in the intervening time. Warmth the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high flame, then fry the shells and heads, stirring frequently, till they flip a vivid pink.
Add a litre of water, convey as much as a vigorous simmer, then pressure right into a clear pan and discard the spent shells.
3 Put together the aromatics
Roughly tear the lime leaves (keep away from utilizing the dried variety right here: frozen are tremendous, although, however recent are infinitely preferable and pretty extensively accessible). Bruise the lemongrass by urgent down on it with the flat of a big knife, then reduce it into roughly 5cm lengths.
Minimize two thick slices of galangal – this ginger-like root is offered in specialist south-east Asian meals shops and a few massive supermarkets, however use ginger for those who can’t supply any.
4 Infuse the inventory
Add the lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal to the inventory pan, convey it again as much as a simmer, then go away to bubble gently and infuse for 5 minutes. In the meantime, finely slice the chillies, leaving the pith and seeds inside (relying in your style for spice, add extra, for those who like). Slide the chillies into the broth and go away the inventory to blip away for a few minutes longer.
5 Add the prawns
Flip down the warmth to the barest simmer, add the prawn meat to the broth and prepare dinner for a couple of minute, till simply pink (watch out to not let the inventory boil or to prepare dinner the prawns for too lengthy, or they may flip rubbery).
Take off the hob, stir within the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce, then style and alter the seasoning as needed.
6 Serve with numerous recent herbs
Ladle the soup into bowls, ensuring the prawns are evenly divided, then tear within the recent herbs in beneficiant portions and serve instantly.
It’s not conventional, however you may bulk out the soup by including some cooked rice noodles if you wish to make it a extra substantial dish, or add different greens comparable to chopped tomatoes, mushrooms or no matter else takes your fancy.
7 Options to shellfish
When you’re not a shellfish fan, make this with good rooster inventory, and add torn cooked rooster (or pork or turkey) on the finish, simply to heat it by. There’s additionally a extra fashionable, richer variation of tom yum by which coconut or evaporated milk is added on the finish of cooking: if that appeals, make solely 750ml inventory, and stir in 300ml coconut milk with the seasonings simply earlier than serving.
8 … or to veganise
To make this vegan, use vegetable inventory or water, and add two spherical shallots, peeled and reduce into wedges, together with the aromatics in step 3. Add two deseeded and roughly chopped tomatoes and 200g chopped oyster, shiitake and/or chestnut mushrooms with the chillies. Vegan variations of fish sauce can be found, and I’d advocate getting maintain of some for this dish.
9 Different flavourings
Vegan or not, you can even add some agency diced tofu as a substitute of the prawns; I feel it’s additionally reasonably good with these fried tofu puffs offered in specialist south-east Asian meals retailers. Decide up a jar of nam prik pao when you’re there: this wealthy, candy chilli paste, additionally accessible in vegetarian type, is a superb addition to tom yum, and an ideal many different dishes apart from.