Tom Yum Gai is Thai hot and sour soup. It often includes either chicken or shrimp, and gets its spice from nam prik pao (Thai chili paste) and Thai bird’s eye chiles, and the sour from lime juice. This recipe is easy to make when craving this beloved Thai favorite.
I love hot and sour soup whether it’s from my local Chinese restaurant or this delicious Thai version, tom yum gai! There’s something about the combination of spicy and sour together which really works. The recipe itself is super easy to make, but gathering the ingredients may prove to be challenging. I’m here to make sure you can make this soup regardless of your accessibility to specialty markets.
Ingredients for Tom Yum Gai
My sister recently got some teeny tiny Thai bird’s eye chiles from one of our local farms. It’s actually what inspired me to make this soup. Normally, Thai bird’s eye chiles are much larger than the ones from the farm. You can easily use a single normal-sized chile for this recipe, but since these were small I just carefully seeded and chopped them all. I have also found frozen bird’s eye chiles at my local Asian market and used those for this recipe. I’ve stocked those in my freezer for future emergencies 😉
I actually ordered fresh kaffir lime leaves and dried galangal slices on Amazon. The remaining kaffir lime leaves are hanging out in my freezer for the next time I make this soup. The dried galangal is inferior to fresh, but still works pretty well. Just make sure you allow some time to soak them in water before starting your soup. You can also substitute ginger for the galangal, although it’s not quite as authentic. I often find fresh lemongrass at my local supermarket with the other fresh herbs. It also freezes really well, so if you buy more than you need just toss the excess in a freezer bag for next time.
How to make it
You can use chicken breast or chicken tenders for this recipe. Thinly slice them into approximately 1/4-inch slices. If your chicken breasts are large, cut them crosswise into more bite size lengths. Saute the chicken in a little oil until all the pieces are cooked through, then remove them from the pan. Add a bit more oil, and some chopped onion and cook until softened. Follow up with chicken broth, mushrooms, and the spices and aromatics. Simmer until the mushrooms are cooked through, and then add the cooked chicken, and sliced tomatoes. When the tomatoes are cooked but not falling apart, remove the soup from the heat, and stir in fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Adjust the seasonings, discard the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, and serve.
Other recipes you may like
- Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
- Chicken and Thai Basil Dumplings
- Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
- Shrimp Pad Thai
- Pomegranate Sriracha Shrimp
- Chicken Pho
- Spicy Vegetable Fried Rice
Do you prefer Chinese or Thai hot and sour soup? Chicken or shrimp? Let me know in the comments below!
Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 12 ounces chicken breast or tenders thinly sliced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 quart chicken broth or stock
- 10 ounces sliced button or cremini mushrooms
- 6 kaffir lime leaves scored
- 6 slices galangal about 1/8-inch thick (I use re-hydrated dried galangal slices, but you can also substitute ginger if needed)
- 3 stalks lemongrass cut into 2-inch pieces and scored
- 1 Thai bird's eye chile stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Nam Prik Pao Thai chile paste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar or raw sugar
- 2 small tomatoes seeded and cut into 8 wedges each
- 1 lime juiced
- A handful of cilantro leaves roughly chopped
- Kosher salt
- In a medium pot or Dutch oven, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring occasionally until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove from the heat, remove chicken from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until starting to soften.
- Add the chicken broth, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, chile, fish sauce, Nam Prik Pao, and sugar. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, and tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked but not falling apart.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro leaves, if desired. Adjust seasoning as needed with salt. Serve immediately, discarding the lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass pieces either directly from the soup pot or from each bowl as you eat.
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