I have to credit David Thompson for the recipe. We’ve tweaked it slightly to make it more to our liking. It’s very similar to tom yum, but the aromatics are removed and then some of them are replaced with fresh ones before serving. The flavour is hot and sour, as the name indicates, intense, but also very fresh tasting. Ideally you’d use homemade chicken stock for this, but failing that use some good quality store bought stock.

For the lemon grass, forget about the small dried out stalks you can get from the big supermarkets. They are not fresh and a complete rip-off. Get some large, fresh lemongrass from your local asian supermarket.


4 cups of chicken stock

small pinch of salt

pinch of palm sugar or white sugar

thumb sized piece of galangal, thickly sliced lengthways

2 stalks of lemongrass

1 large shallot, or about 3 thai shallots, peeled and cut in half

2 -3 kaffir lime leaves

250 – 300 g chicken skinless chicken thighs


handful of oyster or straw mushrooms

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice

handful of Thai chillies (red/green/mixture), bruised

1 stalk of lemongrass, finely sliced

1 large shallot, finely sliced

4 – 5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

small handful of chopped coriander


1. Place stock in saucepan, bring to the boil, and add the salt and sugar.

2. Bruise the first lot of lemongrass with the back of a knife (cleavers are great for this), chop each stalk in pieces about 3 cm long. Add to the pan.

3. Add the first lot of shallots, galangal.

4. Add the chicken and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through. It will take about 7 minutes.

5. Remove the chicken and let it cool for about 5 mins.

6. Strain the stock, keeping the liquid and discarding the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and keep it simmering whilst dealing with the chicken.

7. Using 2 forks, roughly shred the chicken.

8. Grab a large serving bowl and into this place the fish sauce, lime juice, chillies, sliced shallots, sliced lemongrass, sliced kaffir limes leaves, and finally the shredded chicken.

9. Throw the mushrooms into the simmering stock. Let them cook for about 30 seconds, then quickly pour the hot stock into the serving bowl. Mix it up carefully with a spoon. Taste. The saltiness and the sour should be perfectly in balance. If necessary, season carefully with more fish sauce or lime juice.

10. Sprinkle the coriander on the top and serve with jasmine rice.

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