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Tom yam with shiitake mushrooms

Tom Yam is a hot and sour Thai soup. The base is Nam Prik, is chilli water and Phao means roasted. The base of the soup is called Nam Prik Phao (Nam Prik means 'chilli water' and Phao means 'roasted'). Traditional versions use shrimp paste but we've created a similar effect with roasted chillies, garlic, shallots, and tomato. The addition of tamarind adds that traditional sweet and sour flavour. Add to this lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal and chillies, and you have a soup that is all at once hot, sour, salty and sweet, essential flavours to Thai cooking.

Tom Yam with Shitake Mushrooms

Serves: 4 | Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 litre Thai vegetable stock (see recipe below)
  • 1-2 tbsp Nam Prik Phao (see recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp lemon grass, finely sliced
  • 2 lime leaves, shredded
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 65g shitake mushrooms, shredded
  • 1 tomato, seeds removed and cut into strips
  • salt


  • fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 spring onion sliced in rings
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced


  1. In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to the boil, stir in enough Nam Prik Phao to your taste.
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the tomato and simmer gently until the mushrooms are just cooked for approx 6-8 minutes. Season to taste.
  3. Add the tomato strips just before serving. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with coriander leaves, spring onions and red chilli.

Thai Vegetable Stock

Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour


  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in halves
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in halves
  • 4 coriander stems
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms
  • half a sheet of kombu seaweed
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 1 quill lemon grass, bruised
  • thumb sized piece of galangal
  • 8 whole black peppercorns


  1. In a large saucepan put in all the ingredients, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked and the stock has reduced by a quarter, which takes about 1 hour.

Nam Prik Phao

Dietary: Vegan

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes


  • 4 small green chillies, de-stalked
  • 4 small red chillies, destalked
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp shoyu
  • 1 tsp palm sugar


  1. Wrap the chillies, garlic, shallots and tomato in silver foil and place under a grill or in a hot oven and grill or roast until they soften.
  2. Soak the tamarind paste in a 100ml of boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze the pulp with your fingers to dissolve it, then strain, pressing the pulp through a strainer, retain the liquid and discard the fibrous bits and seeds.
  3. Unwrap the roasted chilli mix and place in a mortar and pound to a paste.
  4. Add the tamarind water, lime juice, shoyu and palm sugar and mix to a smooth sauce.

Tips: Tamarind has a sour flavour with a sweet aftertaste. In South East Asia and India it is used in the same way as lemon juice to sour and to bring out the flavour in food. Tamarind paste is extracted from the pods of the tropical tree Tamarindus indica. You can buy tamarind in blocks, which look rather like squashed dates. To extract the pulp, break off a chunk from the tamarind block, cover with just enough hot water and leave to soak, then squeeze out the pulp and discard the fibre and seeds.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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