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Thai cuisine is a pioneer in making wholesome pastes. This paste is such an ingredient, which is very versatile in flavor. So, let’s discuss how this ingredient makes your soup-making more effective.

This paste is an all-in-one addition to flavor up tom yum soup recipes. You can buy it from the store or easily make it at home. This paste includes authentic Thai spices, herbs, and other seasonings, such as:

  • Lemongrass
  • Galangal
  • Garlic
  • Thai red chiles
  • Tamarind
  • Kaffir lime peel/ leaves
  • Coriander roots and leaves
  • Fish sauce
  • Dried shrimps
  • Shallots
  • Sugar
  • Oil

Store-bought options might also include other flavor enhancers and preservatives. 

Let’s look deeper into the whereabouts of the tom yum paste and see how important this is to your cooking applications.

What is Thai Tom Yum Paste?

Thai tom yum paste or Thai Tom Yum Soup paste is an instant, hot, spicy, and sour ingredient, primarily used to mix into tom yum soup recipes. As the name suggests, it comes as a paste and an easily blendable, slightly coarse texture to add tons of flavor to whatever you use it.

Thai Tom Yum Paste - SpiceRally

You can use this paste whenever you feel like it is too much work or doesn’t like to use herbs and spices as pieces in your soup. This paste will have a more concentrated flavor as it is made with many spices, herbs, seasonings, and other flavorings.

All you have to do is to mix this with the broth, add the vegetables and proteins and enjoy a flavorful bowl of soup. This paste also comes with the versatility to adjust the flavor in your liquid, unlike using the ingredients in pieces. This paste also has many other uses which we will be discussing in the latter part of this article.

What Ingredients Are Used In This Paste?

This paste is filled with authentic Thai ingredients. It is more like you can taste all Thai flavors encompassed in just one jar. There are a few basic ingredients used in this paste to make its base flavor. However, secondary flavor components are adjusted, added, or excluded depending on the production or chef.

Spices and Herbs

Galangal– Aromatic, spicy, warm, and intense galangal is one of the main ingredients used in this paste. This spice comprises a punch of flavor that transforms the taste of a certain dish instantly. Galangal is typically paired with garlic, kaffir lime leaves/peel, and lemongrass in this paste.

Garlic- This spice packs a punch with strong, intense, pungent flavor notes and a potent aroma. More or less fresh garlic cloves are incorporated into this paste depending on the preference. This spice intensifies the health value of the Thai tom yum paste while teaming up well with galangal, red chiles, lemongrass, coriander leaves, roots, etc.

Thai red chiles– The hot, spicy, and flavorful Thai red chiles are one of the most important ingredients in this paste accountable for its heat and vibrant red color. Most commercial products include dried Thai red chiles while many homemade versions use a combination of dried and fresh Thai chiles.

Most Thai chiles score about 50,000-100,000 units on the Scoville heat scale, which is quite hot to the bite. However, some choose to use a medley of less hot chiles with pretty hot ones for a perfect balance and a nicer color.

Tamarind- Generally, fresh tamarind juice is used in this paste for more flavor. This juice is usually extracted by mixing fresh tamarind with a bit of water. But in some cases, certain productions or chefs go for tamarind concentrate, pulp, paste, or powder. The unique sweet-sour flavor of tamarind adds a lovely taste to this paste, combining well with all other spices and herbs.

Kaffir lime leaves- This Thai staple adds a unique flavor to this paste with its spiced-citrus flavor. While most homemade Thai tom yum paste recipes are made with kaffir lime leaves, store-bought options are often made with dried kaffir lime peel to maintain its longer shelf life. Kaffir lime leaves are usually paired with galangal, coriander leaves, and lemongrass to build a wonderful flavor.

Lemongrass- As the next critical flavor component in this paste, lemongrass plays a tasty role adding a distinctive fresh, lemony, and citrusy burst of flavor with touches of ginger. Adding lemongrass to this paste will also give it a great deal of fragrance, making it more appetizing.

Fresh stalks of lemongrass combine well with the taste of kaffir lime, galangal, red chiles, and garlic to give an assertive flavor to your soup or anything you prefer.

Coriander roots and leaves– As another common ingredient in most Thai food, coriander roots and leaves also play a significant role in this paste, offering a pleasant taste.

While homemade versions use roots and leaves in combination, commercially produced pastes primarily include dried roots for long shelf life. Coriander leaves impart a fresh herbal, lemon, and peppery flavor, while roots have a more earthy, concentrated flavor.

Other Ingredients

Other than the main spices and herbs we have discussed above, this paste usually includes these ingredients as the main flavor elements:

  • Fish sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Shallots
  • Dried shrimps
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Shrimp paste (optional)

Commercially-made Thai tom yum paste might also include preservatives, color and flavor additives such as:

  • Citric acid
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Paprika oleoresin (as color additive)
  • Shrimp powder

How To Use Thai Tom Yum Paste?

As the name of this paste suggests, the main purpose of these ingredients is to add an instant flavor boost to various recipes of tom yum soup. But still, it is versatile enough to be used in a variety of other ways in cooking. These methods are as follows:

  • To use as a marinade for meat, fish, and other seafood
  • To mix with dips, sauces, and salad dressings
  • As a spread for sandwiches, burgers, toast, and crackers
  • To mix into other types of soup
  • As a base for stir-fries and stews
  • To mix into rice recipes, noodles, and spaghetti
  • To mix into roasted and baked vegetables

If you’re interested in learning about more uses of Thai tom yum paste apart from this primary use, click on this link and refer to our detailed article.

What Are The Substitutes For Thai Tom Yum Paste?

Unfortunately, there are only a very few alternatives available to replicate the flavor and purpose of the Thai tom yum paste. Accordingly, you can use the Thai Red Curry Paste as the closest substitute to replicate the taste and color of this paste.

The red curry paste is better off as a secondary ingredient, while it will not suit well as a substitute for tom yum soup. If you’re using store-bought products, you can try making your batch of Thai tom yum paste as an alternative.

The possibilities to be used when you don’t have the tom yum paste do not confine only to the red curry paste. Click on this link to find a few more great alternatives for this paste that might help you out!

Where To Buy Thai Tom Yum Paste In The US?

Thai tom yum paste is readily available in any shop in Thailand, but you will have to put some effort into getting it if you’re living outside of Thailand. However, if you are a resident of the US, you can try this paste from Asian shops. If not, you will also find this from leading online stores and a few other online sellers.

How To Make Thai Tom Yum Paste At Home?

Did you know that making Thai tom yum paste at home is easier than you ever expected? If you find the right ingredients and set them in proper amounts, you can make a healthy, incredibly flavorful batch of tom yum paste in no time. So, here’s a simple recipe you can start with. This is a classic Thai tom yum paste recipe made with our own twist of flavor!

Thai Tom Yum Paste Recipe

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Recipe by SpiceRally

1 cup

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  • Spices & Herbs
  • 12-15 12-15 Dried Thai red chiles. Shop This

  • 3 3 Fresh Thai red chiles (sliced). Shop This

  • 1 inch 1 Fresh Galangal (grated). Shop This

  • 3 stalks 3 Lemongrass (outer peel removed, thinly sliced).

  • 1-2 cloves 1-2 Fresh Garlic (chopped)

  • 1 tbsp 1 Tamarind paste. Shop This

  • 2 2 Fresh Coriander roots (cut into small pieces).

  • 1 cup 1 Coriander leaves.

  • 5 5 Kaffir Lime Leaves (broken into small pieces).

  • Other ingredients
  • 5 5 Small Shallots (thinly sliced)

  • 1 tbsp 1 Dried shrimp

  • 1 tbsp 1 Fish sauce. Shop This

  • 2 tbsp 2 Palm sugar

  • 1 tbsp 1 Lime juice

  • 2 tbsp 2 Soybean oil/ Coconut oil

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 Sea salt (optional)

  • 3 cups 3 Hot water



  • Preparation
  • Pour the three cups of hot water into a bowl and put your dried red chiles into it. Let your chiles soak in hot water for about 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, take the chiles onto a cutting board, split open your red chiles using a small, sharp knife, and remove the seeds as much as possible. It is okay to leave some seeds for color and flavor.
  • Roughly chop the soaked chiles and set them aside.

  • Make the Thai tom yum paste
  • Get the jar of your blender or food processor and put the soaked red chiles with the fresh Thai red chile pieces.
  • Close the lid and give one or two pulses just to grind them coarsely.
  • Open the lid and put in the rest of the ingredients (galangal, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind paste, palm sugar, soybean/ coconut oil, fish sauce, lime juice, dried shrimp, coriander roots, and coriander leaves).
  • Now blend all the ingredients until everything is well-combined and you get a slightly coarse paste. You can also blend this into a smoother paste, depending on your preference.
  • Check the taste and add sea salt if needed.
  • Transfer the content into a mason jar or an air-tight container.
  • Use immediately or let your Thai tom yum paste be in the jar./ container until you need it.

  • Storage
  • This paste should be refrigerated each time you use it. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freeze the paste in ice cube trays or freezer bags to keep this for up to six months. Do not keep this paste at room temperature.

Tasty Tips by SpiceRally

  • Adjust the number of red chiles you use depending on how hot you need your paste to be.
  • To make a vegetarian or vegan version of this paste, leave out the dried shrimp and the fish sauce. Instead of fish sauce, you can use a splash of soy sauce. But remember that the taste could be slightly different.
  • You don’t have to use both coriander roots and leaves. Leave out the roots if you don’t have it.
  • Try to find fresh lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves as much as possible. You can buy them from Asian stores. But, if you cannot find fresh ingredients, follow up with dried or frozen ones. If using dried or frozen ingredients, use one part more than we have mentioned in our recipe.
  • Use tamarind powder or tamarind concentrate if you cannot find tamarind paste.
  • Leave out the lime juice if you feel it makes the paste too sour.

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Shelf Life and Storage Details of Thai Tom Yum Paste

Commercially-made Thai tom yum paste products usually have a shelf life of about 1-2 years, unopened. But once opened, they should be consumed within 1-3 months. However, homemade recipes have a lesser shelf life due to the absence of preservatives.

They typically last about a week in the refrigerator and about 6 months in the freezer. But the taste would change and flavor decreases over time. Both store-bought and homemade pastes should be refrigerated in a glass, air-tight container.

Tom Yum soup is one of the best dishes in authentic Thai cuisine. It has two main varieties and to learn more about this delicious soup dish, click and refer to our detailed article.

Does Thai Tom Yum Paste Contain Gluten?

This depends on the ingredients used in each recipe. Most store-bought varieties might have gluten-related ingredients. Therefore, always check the list of ingredients you buy. However, homemade versions are usually free of gluten.

Is Thai Tom Yum Paste Vegan-friendly?

Thai tom yum paste is not typically vegan-friendly due to the addition of dried shrimp, shrimp paste, and fish sauce. But, you can skip them and make a vegan version at home.

Is Thai Tom Yum Paste Keto-friendly?

This paste does not contain an excessive amount of carbs. Thus, this can be an excellent addition to your keto-friendly diet plan.

Use Thai Tom Yum Paste To Make A Tasty Difference In Your Dishes!

Thai tom yum paste or Thai tom yum soup paste is a versatile ingredient in many of your cooking applications. It is made with flavorful and aromatic authentic Thai herbs and spices, blended to perfection primarily to give an instant flavor upgrade to your tom yum soup. You will not regret having a jar at home, bought from an Asian store, or made a fresh batch at home!

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