Tom Yum, Nova-style. [fun away from computer]

November 1, 2010


I’ve been meaning to admit this on the blog for a while… I’m such a FOODIE! I love cooking, eating, talking, and learning about food, especially if it’s good for you, both for health and soul. Rob says I’m the only person he knows who actually likes eating stuff that’s healthy – like bread with all sorts of brown grains in it, whole raw heads of broccoli (without ranch), beet & carrot juice, etc.

My meatless diet has forced me to get creative with dishes and here’s a recipe that will knock your socks off (depending on number of chile peppers you can handle)!! I’ve tried so many variations of this recipe, and found this one to be pretty magical. Having posted a peak of our dinner on Facebook & Twitter, I got a sea of requests for a recipe, so here you go. If you’re a Tom Yum soup guru, I would love your tips & suggestions! And if you do give it a try, let me know how it goes 🙂



Kaffir lime leaves (take a leaf and rub it between your palms – delicious citrusy aroma & fresh hands). You will have lots left over from the branches, so freeze it for next batch of soup or take a bath with the fresh leaves!

Lemongrass (comes in stalks): peel off brown outer leaves, cut into finger-sized chunks, crush the thick parts with the back of a knife to release juices. I personally think there can never be too much lemongrass!

Taro stalk (Bac Ha) – peel the outer skin, cut into bite-size rings. Crunchy, spongy, delicious.

Tom Yum paste, peanut satay paste, fish sauce: say I’m a cheater, but a bit of both will make this soup explode with flavour!


PREP takes longest (15-20 min) and can be super fun if you have another pair of hands in the kitchen (both for peeling & cutting stuff and for hugging you from behind while you stir the soup)  🙂


In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and drop a package of thin vermicelli noodles in. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain the noodles under cold water and set aside.

– 4 cups of water (or stock) slowly coming to a boil

– kaffir lime leaves (3-4) & lemongrass go in first (boil 5 mins until fragrant)

– 1-4 small red chile peppers (crushed, minced or whole)

– 1-2 cloves fresh minced garlic

– 1-2 cubes of brown sugar

– 1 tbsp each tom yum paste and peanut satay paste

– 3 tbsp fish sauce & squeeze lime juice

– taste your soup at this point and see if it’s spicy / salty / punchy enough for you!

Now let’s add the raw peeled shrimp (scallops are great too) and all the veggies you want in it (sliced taro, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, red peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes) and let it simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes. It’s important not to overcook the vegetables so that they are not mushy and provide great contrast to the broth.

– 1/2 coconut milk goes in next, making the soup deliciously rich yet light

– finish with coriander powder and fresh cilantro.

Serve in bowls with a handful of cold vermicelli noodles & fresh bean sprouts. Pour your beautiful soup overtop… And enjoy!




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