Tom Yum Pla is a popular soup from Thailand that is hot, sour and cooked with coconut milk and lots of chilis. It is incredible tasting with complex layers of flavor. I’m sure this soup will warm your inside and satisfy your taste bud.
The recipe can be used with other seafoods like shrimps, mussels, scallops, clams, swordfish etc. I opted to use tilapia fillets but sliced whole fish with bones would also be fine.
7 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds tilapia filets
1 stalk minced lemongrass (tanglad), or 2.5 to 3 tablespoons frozen or bottled lemongrass (check substitution below)
2 kaffir lime leaves (check substitution below)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon galangal or ginger, grated
1-2 sliced red chilis or 1-2 teaspoon Thai chili sauce (check substitution below)
1 medium tomato, chopped
Fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
1. Add stock plus lemongrass and lime leaves in a deep soup pot over medium-high heat. For fresh lemongrass, also add the upper stalk pieces for extra flavor. Let it boil.
2. Toss in garlic, galangal/ginger, and chilis. Adjust heat to medium and simmer 2-3 minutes.
3. Add tilapia filets and mushrooms. Simmer over medium heat 3-4 minutes.
4. Adjust heat to medium low and pour in coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Mix well to combine and slowly simmer until hot (do not boil at this point). Do a taste test of the soup for salt and spices, adding more fish sauce instead of salt (I usually add 1 more tablespoon), or more chilis as desired. If too sour, add more sugar. If too spicy for your taste or if you like it creamier, add more coconut milk. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon juice.
5. Serve in bowls with fresh coriander/cilantro sprinkled over. For an extra hit of flavor, you can also add some Thai chili sauce, either store-bought or the homemade version.
Substitutions that work:
If you can’t find lemongrass: try 3 slices of fresh lemon (boil in the soup)
Instead of kaffir lime leaves: 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
For chili: 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or dried crushed chili (chili flakes)
Adapted from a recipe by Darlene Schmidt of www.thaifood.about.com