tom yam kung

Spicy Shrimp – Lemon Grass Soup

This is the most popular dish among newcomers to Thai food. You can add sliced fish, squid, and mussels to this hot and sour soup, perfect for winter.


1/2 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells set aside
6 c. water or chicken stock
2 c. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced into 8 pieces lengthwise
2 stalks lemon grass, crushed then cut into 2″ sections
3 magrut leaves, torn into small pieces
3 coriander roots, crushed
4 T. fish sauce
5 T. fresh lime or lemon juice
2 T. Thai hot sauce (Nam Prik Pao)
1 t. salt
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 sprig coriander, finely chopped


1 Cook shrimp shells in 6 cups of water until they turn pink. Discard the shells.

2 Add the lemon grass, coriander roots, and makrut leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer to allow the flavor of the spices to infuse the broth.

3 Add mushrooms, tomato and shrimp. Cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turns pink. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

4 Turn off the heat. Add Nam Prik Pao, fish sauce, lime juice, green onion, and coriander leaves.

Serves 8

A native of southern Thailand, Nongkran Daks’ introduction to cooking began at age seven. She would get up at 4:00 am daily to pound curry paste. Later, as a college student in Bangkok, Nongkran waited tables at a restaurant with the unlikely name “Dairy Queen”, while she earned a degree in agricultural economics. Subsequently, as the spouse of a diplomat, she used her husband and children as willing guinea pigs for hundreds of dishes acquired during the Daks family travels.

Before launching the Thai Basil, Nongkran taught cooking and catered in Honolulu, Washington, D.C, China, Laos, Taiwan and Thailand. She also ran a snack bar in Bangkok featuring Asian and Western dishes and a mean cheesecake.

Multi-cultural and multi-lingual, Nongkran is a member of the culinary society, Les Dames d’Escoffier. Her cookbook, “The Secrets of Thai Cooking,” was self-published in 1994. Subsequently, Nongkran and Alexandria Greeley co-authored a Vietnamese and two Thai cookbooks published by Periplus.

At the Thai Basil, Nongkran seeks maximum authenticity. She also offers cooking classes, to both adults and young people, catering and frequently lectures and conducts demonstrations on Thai cuisine.

Nongkran’s cuisine has received favorable reviews and media coverage in the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, the Zagat and AOL and Gayot guides as well as several local newspapers. In 2007, Thai Basil earned the Thai Select award under the Government of Thailand’s restaurant certification program.

In 2009 Nongkran was featured in a Pad Thai noodle competition with Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay on his Food Network program Throwdown!. More recently, Nongkran filmed a cooking segment in Bangkok with Samantha Brown, part of an hour long show about Thailand which first aired on the Travel Channel in August 2010.

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