|Alternative names||Tom yam|
|Place of origin||Central Thailand|
|Region or state||Southeast Asia|
|Associated national cuisine||Thailand|
|Main ingredients||Broth, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, chili peppers|
Tom yum or tom yam (UK: / , - /, US: /- /; Thai: ต้มยำ, RTGS: tom yam [tôm jām] (listen)) is a type of hot and sour Thai soup, usually cooked with shrimp (prawn). Tom yum has its origin in Thailand.
The words "tom yam" are derived from two Thai words. Tom refers to the boiling process, while yam refers to a Thai spicy and sour salad. Tom yum is characterised by its distinct hot and sour flavours, with fragrant spices and herbs generously used in the broth. The soup is also made with fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed red chili peppers.
Commercial tom yum paste is made by crushing all the herb ingredients and stir frying in oil. Then, seasoning and other preservative ingredients are added. The paste is bottled or packaged and sold around the world. Tom yum flavored with the paste may have different characteristics from that made with fresh herb ingredients. The soup often includes meats such as chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp.
The taste of Tom yum is based on sour and spicy flavors. A paste called Nam prik pao is prepared as a base of the soup, to which water, herbs and meat are added. The Nam prik pao is made from roasted chilies, shallots, and garlic and the ingredients are best grilled on charcoal fire.
The basic ingredient of Tom yum is shrimp or pork. If shrimp is the base ingredient, put it in the soup after it boils. If pork is the base ingredient, put it in the soup before it boils. The most popular Tom yum base is river shrimp called “Tom yum Goong”.
The essential ingredients of Tom yum are herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. Other ingredients are also important especially Thai chilies, mushroom, coriander leaf (cilantro), tomatoes, sweet white onions, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. “Tom yum nam khon” is a variety with coconut milk or evaporated milk.
In the modern popularized versions the soup contains also mushrooms—usually straw mushrooms or oyster mushrooms. The soup is often topped with generous sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Sometimes Thai chili jam (nam phrik phao, Thai: น้ำพริกเผา) is added: this gives the soup a bright orange color and makes the chili flavor more pronounced.
Less well known outside Thailand is tom khlong (ต้มโคล้ง), a spicy sour soup where the sourness, however, does not derive from lime juice but through the use of tamarind. Tom som (Thai: ต้มส้ม) are soups that are also very similar to tom yum but most often do not contain lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Depending on the type of tom som, the acidity can be derived from lime juice or from the use of tamarind.
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