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Tom Saap

Tom Saap might not be as famous as Tom Yam but it's another highly appetising Thai soup that you should try making at home!

For those who are going "Tom what...?", Tom Saap is a hot & sour pork rib soup that features the same aromatics used in Tom Yam. Aside from pork as the main protein instead of seafood, the other key distinction is the absence of chilli paste, resulting in a refreshingly clear broth with a hit of fresh lime juice.

This recipe is beginner-friendly as very minimal prep and skills are needed.

Let's get cooking!


Tom Saap

Difficulty: ⭐⭐

Serves: 3-4 pax

Cook & Prep Time: 90 minutes (incl. 5-10minutes prep)


  • 500g pork ribs

  • 2-3 inches of galangal

  • 4 lemongrass stalks

  • 4 stalks of coriander

  • 8-10 kaffir lime leaves

  • 2 shallots

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 5-15 bird's eye chillies (up to your spice preference)

  • 1.5 litre of water

  • 1-2 limes (around 6-8 tablespoons of juice)

  • Fish sauce to taste (around 50ml)

  • Salt to taste (1-2 teaspoon)

Ingredients for Tom Saap
Key ingredients needed (missing coriander in the photo, sorry!)

Cooking Directions : 1. Cut galangal into thick slices, lemongrass into 2-3cm lengths, and coriander roots into 5cm lengths (reserve stalks & leaves for garnish).

2. Peel & half/quarter shallots & garlic - does not really matter as they will soften in the soup.

3. Tear kaffir lime leaves and roughly cut bird's eye chillies.

Ingredients for Tom Saap
Prepped ingredients - pretty effortless!

4. Add spareribs and water to a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and skim off any scum that forms on the surface.

Pork broth without scum
Remove all the scum for clear soup.

5. Add lemongrass, galangal, coriander roots, garlic and shallots. Turn heat to low and leave it to simmer for an hour.

Aromatics in pork broth for tom saap
Add aromatics and leave it to simmer.

6. Skim off any excess oil that floats on the surface.

Tom Saap before seasonings are added
Looks good but tastes pretty bad before the seasonings are added!

7. Add kaffir lime leaves and chillies. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with fish sauce, lime juice and salt - adjust to your taste.

Tom saap
The soup turns cloudy once you add lime juice, be sure to only season before you serve!

Garnish with a generous heap of coriander leaves. Add chilli flakes if you want an extra kick.

Ready to serve!

Tom Saap
Tom Saap

The hot and sour notes of this comforting broth make each sip more enjoyable than the last. Not forgetting the deliciously tender pork ribs that go perfectly with a bowl of rice. It's hard to believe that such depth of flavours can be achieved with only a few simple aromatics & 5-10mins of prep. If you want to impress your dinner guests, this is the soup to serve - low on effort but huge on bold flavours! But be sure to prepare enough for seconds as it can be very addictive.

Till the next cook, stay safe & makan well!

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