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  2. The story behind the dish: tom yam
The Story Behind The Dish: Tom Yam

The story behind the dish: tom yam

One taste of tom yam soup and you'll be convinced of its restorative powers. This traditional Thai dish is hot, sour and fragrant, and will warm your soul as well as your stomach. Aroydee make their spicy soup with shrimp or chicken, and either one will leave you feeling fresh. Find out more about this Thai soup that packs a punch…

The spice train

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Tom yam soup is all about herbs and spices – lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, crushed chilli peppers and galangal – which looks like ginger, but is a bit more peppery. This soup is bright and bold, rounded out with some fish sauce for savoury depth and lime juice for extra citrusy sourness.

It takes the hands of experience to bring together these elements together with grace, as they're very divergent. But Thai food is based on mixing core flavours, so sour and spicy mix together delightfully. Most Thai soups are based on lime juice for sourness, but in tom yam it's only an extra – instead, the mix of herbs is what creates that trademark lip-pursing flavour.

What's in a name?

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The name of the soup comes from two Thai words. 'Tom' refers to the soup's boiling process, and 'yam' refers to a spicy and sour salad. There's different versions depending on what the last word is – so 'tom yam gai' means chicken soup, but the popular 'tom yam kung' is made with shrimp. You'll find shrimp versions more in the south where there's plenty of seaside, while chicken is common in the north of the country.

More varieties include the slow-cooked tom yam kha mu – made with pork leg and lots of patience, or the creamy tom yum kathi. This variety mixes in coconut milk for a different texture. Galangal is the dominant taste, so it's not one for the faint of heart as there's plenty of buzzy, almost gingery kick.

Soup of the day

Aroydee has a mix of Thai soups available, from the wonton soup giow nam to the coconut milk-based tom kha family. But the tom yam soups are the most popular on the menu. They offer up both the chicken and shrimp versions, leaving you to pick which hot and spicy bowl of sourness you'd rather try.

Their unique addition to the soup is mushrooms – sliced, cooked till soft, and left in the fiery red soup. These add an extra layer of texture to the soup, and they soak up the flavours giving you bursts of heat whenever you bite down on them.

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