Friday, 28 September 2012
Tom Yum can be considered the national dish of Thailand. It is eaten everywhere by every person, and is a firm favourite with tourists as well. Tom Yum is usually ordered with shrimp (Tom Yum Kung) but can also be made with other types of seafood, chicken, pork, or even tofu.
The soup is thin, and has a hot and sour flavour.
It is eaten with rice, and will often be accompanied by a variety of side dishes. One of the most popular side dishes ordered with Tom Yum Kung is Tod Num Kung (friend shrimp cakes), which are then dipped into the soup itself and eaten.
Tom Yum shares almost all ingredients with Tom Kha, another popular Thai soup dish, although unlike Tom Kha, Tom Yam does not have coconut milk added to the soup to thicken it and give it a creamier taste.
Herbs and spices added to the broth include chilli, fish sauce, galangal, kaffir lime and lemon grass, and these each add to the distinctive Tom Yum flavour in their own way.
The real trick to making the best Tom Yum is to use only the very freshest ingredients, and in the case of prawn or shrimp, this means as close to straight from the sea as is possible. Local fish markets would be the best place to find these, do not be tempted to use pre-frozen supermarket produce, the prawns need to be very fresh so that their taste creeps into the soup.
There are two slight variants to Tom Yum, the first of these being Tom Yum Nam Khon. In this version, milk is added to the soup to make it taste creamier. The second different version of Tom Yam is Tom Klong, where Thai chilli jam is added to the broth, this produces an orange coloured soup with a much stronger chilli taste.
The most different version of Tom Yum is made in Laos, and is often named Royal Laos Tom Yum. This type of Tom Yum is seldom eaten outside of Laos. The only difference between Laos Tom Yum and Thai Tom Yum is that in the Laos version a small quantity of rice is added to the soup whilst it cooks.
Overall, Tom Yum is one of the tastiest Thai dishes, as well as one of the easiest to cook. The ingredients are simple to prepare, and as long as they are used in the right quantities, then perfect results should be achieved every time.