Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup)


Pichit and the Prawn Tom Yum Kung that he taught me to make

I have returned to London for a short stretch, and minutes off the plane it seems, I have contracted the brutal head and chest cold that has been taking London down. I was doing so well, I have not had one cold this winter.

For relief and to fight it, I need something simple, firey and potent to blast the germs out. I also need something cheerful and bright. My life is full of lemon, honey & gingers. I now also need to introduce Prawn Tom Yum Kung soup.


Ingredients for Prawn Tom Yum Kung

This recipe is another from Thailand from my class at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This is an authentic recipe and is full of flavour. I think it is also the perfect thing for a cold. There are two ways of making it, one is clear and one is milk with some more firey heat. In Thailand they use tinned milk which is quite sweet and lighter than coconut milk.


Thai blue river prawns

I am going to work on a coconut milk version, and for now share the recipe for the clear soup, which is adapted from the recipe taught to me by Pichit (in the photographs). I had to change the recipe a little to adapt to the size of our prawns and the availability of ingredients, but the taste is very similar to what I had in Bangkok and still very good.

Note on the recipe: we used giant blue Thai river prawns. I would suggest the best raw prawns that you can find. Cooked prawns will just cook further in the broth and become leathery.

You might also like to check out my recipe for Thai Seafood Green Curry from the same class.


A slightly blurry photo of the finished soup in Bangkok – it was insanely hot and steamy there and I was just about holding it together towards the end :)

Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung Soup 

Serves 4 to 6


1kg large raw prawns
1 galangal root, sliced finely at an angle
3 large kaffir lime leaves, soft leaf removed from the central stem
3 stalks of lemongrass, topped and tailed and sliced finely at an angle
50g chee farang (translates as foreign coriander – very pungent coriander shaped in a long leaf – substitute with extra coriander if you can’t source)
350g mushrooms
50g tamarind pulp
1 kaffir lime, juice only (substitute normal lime if you can’t get one)
3 birds eye chillies
5 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
handful of fresh coriander leaves to finish
1 litre water


Prepare the tamarind by soaking in enough water to cover it for 20 minutes and squeezing it. Discard the pulp, we will use the tamarind water.
Grind the chillies in a pestle and mortar or food processor.
Boil the water and add the galangal, lemongrass & kaffir lime leaves.
A few minutes later add the fish sauce, sugar, the juice of the lime, 1 tbsp of the tamarind water, mushrooms and chilli.
Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the prawns. As soon as the prawns are pink, the soup is ready.
Adjust the flavour by adding more fish sauce and/or lime if required.
Finish with the fresh coriander leaf and serve immediately.



Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.