Khlong" tom" yam

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

This soup should taste hot and spicy-sour, and blowsy with fragrance. Prawns aren’t the be-all here, so keep to veg if you don’t eat creatures. Opens up the pores, so a perfect cool-off.


  • 1.5 litres Asian chicken stock
  • 2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed open
  • 4 cm piece fresh galangal or root ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 16 thin slices cooked bamboo shoots
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or caster sugar
  • 4 birdseye chillies, split
  • 12 large cooked tiger prawns, shells on
  • 4 small tomatoes, halved
  • handful of coriander leaf and stem, roughly chopped


Simmer the stock with the smashed lemongrass, galangal, bamboo shoot and half the lime leaves for about 8 minutes, then stir in half the fish sauce, half the lime juice, half the sugar and half the chillies, and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes. Next, shell the prawns, keeping the tail ends on, then add to the soup; if they’re not cooked, simmer gently for 2 minutes or so. Discard the spent lemongrass and lime leaves, then stir in the tomato and remaining kaffir lime leaves, shredded. Give it a taste, then add more fish sauce, sugar and chilli until it’s blended to your liking. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining lime juice. Divide between the bowls and chuck on a little leafage. Extra ground chilli or, for those with a keener Thai tongue, toasted shrimp paste mashed with chilli, can be added at the table.