Hey, y’all! Welcome to the first episode of my brand-new series, #CookingwithNikky. This series is going to be all about how to feed your soul with Thai food that you can easily make in your own kitchen. And for this episode, we’re making tom yum kang, and we’re gonna make it in under 10 minutes.
What is tom yum?
First of all, what is tom yum? Tom yum is a traditional Thai hot and sour soup. The word “tom” refers to the boiling process of making soup, while the word “yum” means it’s mixed. You can say its name literally means soup.
There’s no one way you can make tom yum. In fact, this soup has so many versions, and you can even make it your own way. If you think you can cook this soup in five minutes instead of 10, then we can make it happen.
Tom yum is all about fresh herbs
For all the many versions that tom yum has, they have one common denominator: fresh herbs. Tom yum is really about the fresh herbs—kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass in particular.
Among the many things that make this soup so amazing are the oils from the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. They really give this dish its flavor. And getting these oils is so simple. For the kaffir lime leaves, you only need to tear them before putting them in your soup pot. As for the lemongrass, you just crush or pound the bottom two-thirds of the stalks, and then throw them in the pot.
Galangal, or what I call ginger’s sister, is another essential herb for tom yum. It really kicks you in when you bite into it. Just cut them into big chunks, then toss them in the soup.
Yet another important ingredient to this soup is Thai chili peppers. If you’re not into spicy food, you can use the red ones because you can easily find them and fish them out. But if you want to scare somebody, use the green ones and cut them finely. They’ll think it’s green onions. But hey, that’s the fun part of Thai cuisine.
Ingredients of choice
The ingredient of choice in tom yum for me is shrimp. If you don’t have access to fresh shrimp, no worries. Just keep it simple and use the frozen ones from the supermarket.
You can throw in your favorite mushrooms into your soup. Mushrooms add yum to tom yum because of their natural umami flavor. And if you’re vegetarian, mushrooms are the way to go. However, I’d recommend that you skip on the shiitake—shiitake mushrooms have a really strong flavor and can overpower the fresh herbs.
What about the soup stock? I use chicken stock, but you can simply use water, especially if you’re vegetarian.
Balance and seasoning
One of the basic things you need to know about Thai food is it’s all about the sour and the spicy and the salty and the sweet. Balance all these, and your soul comes alive. Still, Thai food is a matter of personal taste. You can tone down or level up the spice as you like it.
For your tom yum, you achieve the needed balance by seasoning it with fish sauce, a little bit of sugar, and some Thai chili paste. This soup also calls for lime juice, but since lime juice is a fresh ingredient, you’ll want to add it at the very end. When you do so, you keep its pow and punch. I love my tom yum sour, as do my kids.
Once your tom yum is done, serve it hot and garnish it with fresh green onions and cilantro.
Tom yum is so simple, so easy, and so good. And it’s super impressive—your friends are going to think you took hours and hours to make it.
You can watch this episode here: https://bit.ly/2X9SruI.