Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Absolutely Tom Yum-med!

Tom Yam Goong
This has to be the most random blogpost I have ever written. Probably inspired by my increasingly enjoyable TES Lunch Feasts, I am going to write about Thailand's signature dish - the internationally acclaimed Tom Yum Soup. However, if you haven't been to Thailand (or remain a typical tourist even after several visits), your impression of this dish might be stuck with that of the picture above- a red, spicy, sour shrimp broth sometimes thickened with coconut milk. There's nothing wrong with this particular version, but having had authentic Thai food for 2.5 years now, I realised that Tom Yum Soup is just a general name. It's more than meets the eye. It can be anything and everything!

If you think about the signature dishes of the main international cuisines, few are as versatile as its Thai counterpart. Here's to remember some of the different Tom Yum (something) Soups I have tasted over the last 30 months:

Tom Yum Beef
Tom Yum Frog
Tom Yum Chicken
Tom Yum Chicken Egg
Tom Yum Duck Egg
The very popular Tom Yum Seafood
How would I miss out Tom Yum Pork

Tom Yum smoked dried fish soup!

Last but not least, Tom Yum Sardines Soup!

It's simply amazing how versatile Tom Yum Soup can be. Aside of throwing anything you like inside, the taste of the soup ranges from spicy, non-spicy, sour, non-sour, sweet, creamy (with coconut milk), clear.... not every version is tasty, but whatever you can think of, name it and you have it.

I have not even started on how Tom Yum flavour has successfully infused into other foods like instant noodles, potato chips, salads, fried seaweed (Japanese food), pastas, pizzas (Italian food), movies (yes there's a movie called Tom Yum Goong)..... It's just mind-boggling when I started to brainstorm about Tom Yum related items. Lame as it is, I had to write this post.....

Forget the Phad Thai (which is not very easy to find in non-tourist places) or pineapple rice (I have not seen this dish served even once in Bangkok before). If there is one dish that you have to taste to understand the culture of Thai people, some might argue that it should be papaya salad, but for me, it absolutely has to be Tom Yum Soup!


  1. t's really interesting how dishes are adapted and promoted in SG. Like how hainan chicken rice probably don't exist in hainan and how pineapple rice can't been found in Bangkok! haha. I'm big lover of tom yum soup and I honestly didn't know so many versions existed!


  2. Haha FT, it's true. No one in Thailand is going to dig a hole in a pineapple to hold fried rice.

    But having a Hainanese wife, I think there is chicken rice in Hainan, and the famous one is called 文昌鸡。

    Oh well, to taste a different version of Tom Yum Soup, you need to come to Thailand and have lunch at my office, I will make sure my staff cooks something unforgettable for u.


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