Go directly to:


Type gerechten


Tom yam

Tom yam
Tom yam

Tom yam

Tom yam is a clear, intensely sour and spicy soup. It is made with lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves, along with meat or fish of your choice, although mushrooms can also be used. The dish is flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice and chilli peppers. 

What is tom yam?

Tom yam (pronounced ‘tom jam’) is a clear soup with an intensely sour and spicy flavour. It is made by combining lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal. A portion of meat or fish can also be added, while mushrooms are also a popular choice. All of this is flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice and chilli peppers. 

Although ‘tom’ means cooking, when it’s in the name of a dish, such as tom yam or tom kha kai, you can count on soup being part of the package. Yam is the term used to refer to a selection of Thai salads, so tom yam can be translated as ‘salad soup’. Still, don’t expect to see lettuce or vegetables floating in broth as the ‘yam’ refers to the seasonings, which are exactly the same as those you’d find in a yam salad. 

The dish is one of the most famous soups in the world. It is served with fish or meat, with shrimps (tom yam goong) and chicken (tom yam kai) particularly popular. 

Did you know...

Galangal and ginger might look alike, but in Thai cuisine, they’re polar opposites. While ginger has a warming effect, galangal cools, so you can’t just swap them out in recipes.

How to make tom yam

There’s a holy trinity of ingredients within the tom yam recipe that’s added to a base of shrimp stock, chicken stock or plain water. This trio includes lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal, which should all be pulverised so that flavours can be released freely into the soup. Lemongrass is crushed, lime leaves shredded and galangal finely sliced. Along with a little chilli pepper, these ingredients combine to form a flavourful tom yam base in mere minutes. Other ingredients such as mushrooms or shrimps are only added later, being barely boiled during the cooking process. The soup is seasoned as it simmers with distinctive yam flavours including fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. These provide the balance of salt, sour and sweet atypical of Asian cuisine. 

How to eat

The Thai like to serve their tom yam with seasonings left in place as an aesthetic element. However, these pieces of lemongrass, chilli, galangal and lime leaves aren’t meant to be eaten. You can leave these behind with peace of mind.

Please consider

If you’ve any fresh coriander spare, pick some leaves and use a garnish.

Also try

If you prefer a milder option, then tom kha kai is the dish for you. If you’re a fan of sourer flavours, try a Vietnamese soup called bun rieu and you won’t be disappointed.

Discover these dishes

Tom yam