Thai Food Recipe: Tom Yum Gai Tom Yum

Tom Yum Gai (Spicy Sour Chicken Soup)

Tom Yum Gai Tom Yum – Spicy Thai Chicken Soup



1/2 pound chicken breast
1 cup straw mushrooms
1 cup water
1 lemon grass (cut 2 inches)
4-6 kaffir lime leaves
3 small red onions cut into quarters
2 medium to large tomato
2 pieces galangal
2 tbsp. fish sauce
4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sugar (optional)
2-8 red and/or green chili peppers
1 tbsp. tom yum soup paste
1/2 cup celery (cut 1 inch)
1/4 cup coriander (cut 1 inch)


Cooking Instructions:

1. Boil 1 cup of water. In boiling water, put peppers, galangal, lemongrass and salt.

2. Put chicken in boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Add mushroom chili paste and cook it for 5 minutes. Then, put tomato, onion, fish sauce and boil for another 2 minutes. Turn off the fire.

4. Put Chinese celery, kaffir lime leaves and coriander.

For presentation you can garnish with coriander and red chili pepper. Thai people usually eat this with a bowl of rice. They take a spoonful of soup and mix it with their rice or a spoon of rice and dip it into their TOM YUM soup. There are many kinds of Tom Yum Soup – just exchange shrimp, squid, or even pork for the chicken. Enjoy, this is one of Thailand’s favorite dishes.


Note by Vern

Of all the Thai dishes available, you have probably at least tasted tom yum soup – probably with shrimp in it. I first had it around twenty years ago and my mind was opened to the amazing tastes of Thailand in a little restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. When we go to restaurants in Thailand we get the choice to have the thick red soup, or the naam sai – the clear broth. We almost always get the traditional clear broth variety. I can’t even remember the name of the thick orange one. I love it too – but, when I’m paying for it, I guess I want the ultimate – the clear broth tom yum!

Types of Tom Yum Soup:

  • tom yum gai (chicken)
  • tom yum talay (seafood)
  • tom yum goong (shrimp)
  • tom yum moo (pork)
  • tom yum hed (mushroom)
  • vegetarian tom yum – thick with mushrooms, tomatoes, maybe something else

Keep in mind, this is Vern writing this, so I’m sure I’ve missed some. These are the ones I typically see at restaurants and at our home. Grandma likes to make the vegetarian tom yum as she doesn’t eat chicken or beef and maybe not shrimp either.

Tom yum, when it is made correctly is not a completely overpowering taste. You can taste the galangal, the lemongrass, the shrimp. It has salt, but not over salty. The ingredients you cannot eat – are ground up very finely (except the galangal) and usually it sinks to the bottom of the bowl so you don’t get it in your spoon as you eat. The shrimp in Thailand have the tails left on them for some reason. This is a pain because you can either wrestle with removing it from the tail with your fork and spoon, or grab it with your thumb and forefinger and pull with your fork. It’s messy.

Tom yum is really a favorite in Thailand, and every time I’m at a restaurant I see someone eating something with tom yum flavor. There are noodles and other dishes that are made with tom yum seasoning.

Come to Thailand and see what Thai food is really all about!

Sawasdee Ka - Joy

Thai Food Recipe: Kao Pad Nam Prig Sawan (Fried Rice & Deep Fried Crushed Fish with Chili Paste from Heaven!)

Kao Pad Nam Prig Sawan Pla Dook Foo: (Fried Rice and Deep Fried Crushed Fish with Chili Paste from Heaven)


1 cup fish meat (cooked and crushed)
1 cup steamed rice
1/4 cup carrot
2 tbsp. green bean
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tomato (sliced)
1 cucumber (sliced)
2 tbsp. chili paste (Nam Prig Sawan, Mae Pranom Brand)


Cooking Instructions:

1. Chop the fish meat and deep fry until it turn to golden brown color and set aside.

2. In a different pan, put olive oil and wait until the pan is hot.

3. Then, Add minced garlic and fry it until it has aromatic smell.

4. Put cooked jasmine rice, carrot, green bean, chili paste (more or less as you like). Now, mix well. Turn off the fire.

5. Put crispy fried fish over top. Dress with cucumber and tomato or any kind of vegetable. Let your imagination leads you. 🙂 haha..


Nam Prig Sawan is literary mean Chili Paste from heaven. Try it then you will know why this paste came from up there! 🙂 haha..

OK OK! I will tell you now, why we called it “Chili Paste from heaven”.

This paste is less spicy. That’s all.

There is also Nam Prig Narok, which means “Chili Paste from hell”. Can you imagine how spicy it would be? Mae Pranom Brand has both of them, if you want to try.

*Read about level of spiciness in Thailand here.
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Thai Food Ingredient: Dry Red Chili

Thai Food Ingredients: Dried Red Chili Pepper!

Dried red chili pepper.

Thai Food: Dried Red Chili Pepper

This is one of the prime ingredients and spices in so many food dishes we eat here in Thailand. Every breakfast my husband and I add this to our “Gwit Diao” pork noodle soup. Along with a dash of fish sauce it really helps to flavor the broth. We love spicy almost all the time – so eating this for breakfast is not a big deal… It’s a habit! I think this red chili might be addictive. There are many types of red chili powder that you’ll find at the market or at the Asian market in your city at home. There are different levels of spiciness too! Experiment and buy some different types until you find one that tastes good to you and is the level of spicy that you like!

Here are some Thai foods we love red chili powder in:

Gwit Diao Moo or Gai (Noodle soup with pork (moo) or chicken (gai)
Kow Tom Moo ( Rice soup with pork, some scallions, garlic and pickled radish)
Pad Thai (Spicy stir-fry noodles)
Pad Csi Iw (Stir fried thick noodles)
Kanom Jin (Noodles with curry)
Bla-Rah sauce (fermented fish/crab sauce)

And many more, but our dinner is getting cold as I write this!

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Thai Food Recipe: Som Tam Bla Rah!

Som Tam (Som Tum) spicy papaya salad from northeastern Thailand.

Thai Food: Som Tam Bla Rah! – Spicy papaya salad with fermented fish/crab sauce

Shredded unripe papaya for making Som Tam - Thai spicy salad.


5 peppers
3 garlic
1 tomato (sliced)
1 eggplant (sliced)
1 fermented crab
1 handful chopped papaya
1 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. fermented fish juice (Bla rah)
2 pieces lemon
1 tsp. sugar or palm sugar


Som Tam Instructions:

1. Pound chili peppers and garlic together. Add tomato, eggplant, and fermented crab. Then, mix it with fish sauce, bla rah, lemon, and sugar.

2. Use a pestle to crush and mix all the ingredients together. Starting with garlic, chilies and then the rest.

3. Put papaya in and mix it by pestle or spoon. Now your som tam bla rah is ready to be served.

4. Lay fresh vegetable, cucumber, cabbage, string bean or morning glory for example, on the side. Cucumber is good for taking away some of the spiciness of the chilies. So too is eating each bite with some rice. Eating som tam plain without rice is sacrilegious in Thailand.

Som Tam Tip
Using a pestle to pound and mix the ingredients with papaya makes the sauce get into the papaya better than stirring. It will also make your Som tam juicy!

My Som Tam video at YouTube >


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If you want to see Som Tam recipe in another language click link:

Som Tam in French

Som Tam in German

Som Tam in Spanish

Thai Food Vegetables: Chili Peppers

Thai Food Vegetables: Chili Peppers!

Thai Chili Peppers

Thai food: Chilis!

These are green and red chili peppers that we use in our Thai food dishes on this web site. It is very difficult to tell which chilis are going to be medium spicy and which chilis are going to be “hurting your ears” spicy. There are different levels of spicy in Thailand.

Level 1 – “Mai Phet” (pronounced “my pet”)

You can feel it on your tongue after you are well into your meal – maybe in 15-20 minutes. This is VERY unspicy and something that you don’t see much of here. Most Thais’ like it more spicy than this.

Level 2 – “Phet Nid Noi” (pet nid noy)

Spicy little bit. This is a couple chilis in your dish (1-3). Mild chilis at that. Most foreigners can handle this and think it’s getting spicy. Your mouth may start to burn a bit during the meal but you probably won’t need to STOP eating – you can eat the whole meal – may already be very spicy for some foreigners (expats).

Level 3 – “Phet Poddee” (pet poddee)

Spicy just right. This varies for even Thais – but for my husband and I we are at this level at between 5 and 8 chilis in each of our meals. If the meal is wet – like Som Tam or Yum Woonsen then the spice hits a little harder. At some point we might have to slow down a little bit and take a drink of water to continue eating. This is still a comfortable level of spice – the mouth may burn – a lot… the lips will tingle. We may feel hot all over… we may sweat a little – if it’s hot out and humid… we will cry be wiping our noses (nobody blows in Thailand).

Level 4 – “Phet” (pet)

Spicy. This is where one might sweat… cry, and run their nose into their food… This is where the body is hot… and one might start to feel it in the ears too. Yes, your ears will feel like your ears are blocked or there is air coming out of them. My husband doesn’t know this feeling yet – he hasn’t had it yet. I usually get it at the next level…

Level 5 “Phet Phet! or Phet Maak!” (pet pet or pet maak)

Burning holes in your throat, tongue, stomach and ears spicy. This is what happens if you’re eating level 4 and you eat too much… it is also a level of it’s own – like in Isaan – the northeast of Thailand where nearly every meal might be like this if you don’t tell the waitress “phet poddee ka”. At this level you WILL need to stop eating your Thai food often and take drinks of water and eat cucumber slices to keep your sanity.

Some Thai people love this level all the time – for my husband and myself it’s rare – maybe once per month!

Hope that helps you gauge the level of Thai food spiciness you’re eating…

Sawasdee Ka - Joy