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Tom Yum Pla (Thai Fish Soup Recipe)

Tom yum pla, a Thai fish soup, with a rich broth, fish slices, and fresh herbs. Served in a clay pot with a side of Thai sticky rice.

Tom yum pla, a healthy Thai fish soup, is a refreshing bowl of pure deliciousness. Imagine fresh fish in a tamarind-infused broth, mingled with fresh herbs and spices like galangal and kaffir lime leaves. It's easy to make, a touch sour, a hint of spice, and full of classic tom yum soup flavors.

Tom yum pla, a Thai fish soup, with a rich broth, fish slices, and fresh herbs. Served in a clay pot with a side of Thai sticky rice.

Make sure to try my tom yum gai soup (a hot and sour chicken soup), tom yum talay (spicy seafood soup), and tom yum goong (a spicy shrimp) later! My authentic tom yum noodle soup is perfect for those with experience in the Thai kitchen.

What is tom yum pla

Tom yum pla is a traditional Thai fish soup, beloved for its blend of tender fish, herbs, and spices. This soup is a staple in Thai cuisine, offering a mix of sour and spicy flavors, and often prepared with lemongrass, galangal, and makrut lime leaves.

Tom pla recipe

In this recipe, we will be making tom pa, which is a lighter version of the tom yum pla soup. It's delicious in its own way, and a total family favorite!

It's still got all those delicious flavors and aromas, yet it's a bit milder for the kiddos. This soup is like the comfort food of Thai cuisine, and it's a staple in Isan, Northeastern Thailand.

A traditional clay pot filled with tom pla, a Thai fish soup, showcasing slices of fish, tomatoes, and chopped green onions, served next to a basket of sticky rice.

Hey, if you're all about a hot sour soup, just add a squeeze of lime or more tamarind paste. Feel free to toss in some Thai chilies to turn up the heat, or fry dried chilies to add a smoky flavor and spice.

Stir in some of my homemade tom yum paste for extra tom yum flavor!

This Thai fish recipe is so simple and easy. It's everything you're looking for in a Thai soup, made right in your kitchen.

Quick, easy, and delicious.

Top-view of tom yum pla soup served in a clay pot with tender fish, tomatoes, and fresh herbs and spices.

Here are some more of my personal favorite Thai fish recipes for you to try next: Thai crispy fish with tamarind sauce, Thai steamed fish recipe, and pla pao (grilled fish).

Why try this Thai soup recipe

  • Authentic recipe: This is our family recipe for tom pla. We often make soup when we crave something warm and comfortable during the colder winter mornings.
  • Family-friendly: Most tom yum soup recipes are too spicy for kids, but this one is light and mild. You can easily add extra spice by adding dried chilies.
  • Quick and easy: This recipe is perfect for any home cook, with easy and straightforward steps.
  • Versatile: You can choose a variety of fish options and flavor the soup to your taste.
  • Healthy: This Thai fish soup is packed with nutritious herbs and spices, it's a soup that's as good for you as it tastes.

Best fish for Thai fish soup

Tum yum pla is incredibly versatile, especially with the choice of fish. I went for tilapia, it's cheap and readily available at food markets in Southeast Asia. It's mild, flaky, and soaks up all the tom yum flavors like a dream.

Tom pla soup served in a clay pot, showcasing fresh fish, tomatoes, green onions, and lemongrass. In the distance, a traditional bamboo woven basket of sticky rice.

For the best flavor in your soup, I suggest using a whole fish – head, bones, and all. These parts add an incredible depth to the fish broth. Alternatively, you can use fish fillet.

By the way, if you like cooking with fish fillet, you'll love this authentic Thai red curry fish!

The best fish for fish soup:

  • Sea bass
  • Snapper
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Cod

In Thailand, we can get cleaned whole fish at street markets. I give the fish another quick rinse before cooking to make sure there's no fishy smell, keeping the aromas of your soup perfect.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for tom yum pla recipe including fish sauce, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, tomatoes, tamarind paste, and fresh herbs and spices.
  • Fish - I used a whole tilapia, feel free to use your favorite type of fish.
  • Fish sauce - A key ingredient in Thai cuisine, adding umami and a salty depth to our dishes. Fish sauce can be sourced at Asian grocery stores or markets.
  • MSG - A type of flavor enhancer commonly used in Isan cuisine to uplift the flavors.
  • Salt - A pinch of salt enhances the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Tomatoes, green onions, cilantro - My choice of fresh herbs and vegetables, feel free to customize with your favorite soup vegetables like mushrooms and baby corn.
  • Kaffir lime leaves - Also known as makrut lime leaves, these add an intense citrus fragrance.
  • Fresh tamarind - Gives the soup its distinct tangy notes. Essential in the tom yum flavor and for balancing the flavors in the soup. You can get fresh tamarind at Asian markets or supermarkets.
  • Galangal root - Adds a sharp, citrusy spice. Galangal is a family of ginger and essential for the authentic Thai flavor.
  • Lemongrass - The notes of lemongrass are key for the soup's fragrance, infusing the broth with a bright flavor.
  • Shallots - Adds a subtle, natural sweetness and a hint of sharpness, enhancing the overall flavors of the soup.
  • Garlic - An essential in Thai cooking, garlic adds aroma and a pungent note.
  • Water - The base of the soup that carries all these wonderful flavors.

Cooking instructions

1. Clean fish: Rinse the fish under cold water and scrub with salt and flour to eliminate any fishy smells. Remove scales and guts, then pat dry and cut into large chunks for your soup.
2. Spices and seasonings: Place a pot over medium heat and add your water. Add galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, and fresh tamarind. Then, add MSG, fish sauce, and salt. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add vegetables and fish: Add fish pieces and tomatoes. Let the soup simmer for approx 3 minutes.
4. Fresh herbs: Turn off heat and stir in green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Ready for something different? Try tom yum fried rice and dry tom yum noodles or yum pla muk, a spicy Thai squid salad next!

Kitchen tools

  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Large pot
  • Ladle

Thai fish soup recipe tips

  • Avoid overcooking: Don't overcook the fish soup. Overcooking can lead to dry, less flavorful fish.
  • Clean the fish well: Rinse your chosen fish with cold water and ensure it's cleaned thoroughly to maintain the freshness of your soup.
  • Adjust to taste: Thai food is all about creating a flavor balance that suits your taste. Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your liking.
  • Add sourness: To add more sour flavor, add fresh lime juice or more tamarind paste.
  • Get creative: Toss in your favorite herbs like Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, mint, or ginger. Experiment and find out what's best for you.
  • Fish choice: You can opt for any white-fleshed fish in this tom yum pla recipe. Great choices are tilapia, cod, salmon, snapper, and sea bass.
  • Spice it up: For a spicy soup, sprinkle in some Thai chili flakes (red pepper flakes) to give your soup a spicy kick.

How to serve

Ladle the soup into separate bowls, make sure each serving gets a mix of fish and vegetables. Top each bowl with your favorite herbs like cilantro or chopped green onions.

I love serving this or any tom yum soup with a side of steamed jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice.

How to store and reheat

Let the soup cool to room temperature before storing. Transfer into an airtight container and refrigerator. It'll keep well for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Simply warm it in a pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, use a microwave.

Frequently asked questions

Can I freeze tom yum pla?

Yes, tom yum pla can be frozen for later. However, it's best to freeze the broth without the fish and add fresh fish after thawing for the best taste.

Can I make this soup vegetarian?

You can swap the fish for more vegetables and swap the fish sauce for a vegetarian alternative.

What other vegetables can I add to the soup?

Feel free to add your favorites, like mushrooms and bell peppers.

Is tom yum pla suitable for kids?

If you're having tom yum with kids, you can easily tone down the heat by omitting the chilies or using a mild type of chili pepper.

More Thai soup recipes you'll love

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Ratings 5 from 2 votes
Cooking Method
Courses ,
Time
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 35 mins
Servings 3
Calories 242
Description

This mild and healthy variation of om yum pla soup is perfect for a light and flavorful meal.

Ingredients
  • 25 ounces fish (see notes)
  • 50 fluid ounces water
  • 1.05 ounce lemongrass (cut of the bottom and chop off the top of the stalks)
  • 1.05 ounce galangal (slice thinly)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 3.50 ounces shallots (sliced)
  • 1 ounce fresh tamarind
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (stems removed)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon MSG
  • 5.30 ounces tomatoes (quartered)
  • 0.70 ounces green onions (roughly chopped)
  • 0.35 ounces cilantro (chopped)
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fish under cold water and scrub with salt and flour to eliminate any fishy smells. Remove scales and guts, then pat dry and cut into large chunks for your soup.

  2. Place a pot over medium heat and add your water. Add galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, and fresh tamarind. Then, add MSG, fish sauce, and salt. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

  3. Add fish pieces and tomatoes. Let the soup simmer for approx 3 minutes.

  4. Turn off heat and stir in green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 242kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2.4g4%
Saturated Fat 0.9g5%
Total Carbohydrate 17.8g6%
Dietary Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugars 8.1g
Protein 39.7g80%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note
  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Fish: I used a whole tilapia, feel free to use your favorite type of fish like cod or sea bass.
Keywords: tom yum pla, Thai fish soup, tom pla

Thank you so much for trying my recipe!