One of the best and most well-known Thai dishes is Tom Yum, a soup that is both sour and spicy. Traditionally served with rice, it can be a main dish or appetizer.
But finding traditional Tom Yum soup isn’t as simple as walking into your nearest Thai restaurant. While the ingredient list isn’t long, an authentic execution requires more than just throwing ingredients into a pot.
Keep reading to learn more about this aromatic Thai soup and where to find the absolute best Tom Yum in Seattle!
What Is Tom Yum?
As one of the staples of Thai cooking, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Thai restaurant menu that didn’t include this hot and sour soup. Tom Yum recipes are passed down in Thai families through generations, and while you can find premade pastes in stores, the best recipes create their broth and paste fresh.
The soup includes fish sauce, lime juice, galangal, lemongrass, crushed peppers, and kaffir lime leaves. By crushing the ingredients together, the flavors are released. They are then stir-fried in oil and combined with broth to create the signature spicy-sour flavor.
Originally, the soup was mostly made with shrimp and is believed to have originated in Central Thailand, which boasts an abundance of freshwater shrimp from the Chao Phraya River. However, restaurants and individual regions have added their own special flair to the recipe.
Variations of Tom Yum
Besides the addition of shrimp, called Tom Yum Kung, there are other well-known variations you might find on menus that add their own flavor to this warming broth soup.
Some recipes use other meats, some are vegetarian versions, and still, others use spices and broth additions that change the flavor profile slightly. Below are some of the most common.
- Tom Yum Gai, substituting chicken for shrimp
- Tom Kha Kung, using coconut milk for half of the broth
- Tom Yum Hed, a vegetarian version of the dish that eliminates meat and uses mushrooms instead
- Tom Yum Talay, which uses mixed seafood instead of strictly shrimp
Some recipes play with spices instead of ingredients, keeping to the traditional lineup of ingredients and adding their own twist with additions like Nam Phrik Pao, a chili paste that gives the soup a signature orange color while adding an enhanced sweet spiciness to the chili flavor.
The Best Tom Yum Soup in Seattle
When looking for the best and most authentic Tom Yum, you’ll want to find a restaurant that makes their own spices and pastes and offers the original traditional recipe. Additions and substitutions evolve from almost every dish, but nothing ever quite beats the flavor of the original.
For the best Tom Yum in Seattle, check out Thai Ginger. You won’t be able to beat the authentic hot, and sour flavor of our traditional Thai soup made with shrimp and simmered with lemongrass, lime leaves, mushrooms, and cilantro.