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Tom yum paste in a bowl on the table with a spoon.

Thai Tom Yum Paste Recipe

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5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 20
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


Do you love the ever-popular Thai Tom Yum Soups? If so, you will love this authentic homemade Thai Tom Yum Paste recipe made from scratch! It's easier than you think. All you need are the right ingredients, and you are on your way to making the most flavorful Tom Yum paste!


  • 2-10 dried red chili peppers, seeds removed and soaked in hot water until soft
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/4 cup lemongrass, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon galangal, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kaffir lime zest. Or 1 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced PLUS 1/2 teaspoon regular lime zest.
  • 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorn
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon oil, vegetable, avocado, coconut, or canola
  • 1 tablespoon  water


Method 1. Using a food processor

  1. Prepare the chilis. Remove the seeds using kitchen gloves. The heat from the seeds is potent and can burn your skin and cause discomfort for hours. Soak the chilis in hot water for 10 minutes. 20 minutes in warm water. Or until the chilis are soft. Drain the water and pat dry the chilis. 
  2. Toast the dry spices. Dry toasting the white peppercorns and coriander seeds. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder into a powder form. 
  3. Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz away until you get a fine paste. Pause a couple of times to scrape the edges of the food processor with a spatula. Add more water as needed, but not too much. 
  4. Remove and use immediately for cooking. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week and 3 months in the freezer—no need to fry your Tom Yum paste, especially if you will use it immediately. 

Methods 1. Using mortar and pestle

  1. Prepare the chilis. Remove the seeds using kitchen gloves. Soak the chilis in hot water for 10 minutes or 20 minutes in warm water until the chilis are soft. Using about one cup of warm water is all you need for soaking the chilis. Drain the water and pat dry the chilis. 
  2. Toast the dry spices. On medium heat, dry toasting white peppercorn and coriander seeds until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Do not let the seeds get too browned, or they will release a bitter, unpleasant taste. Remove from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder into powder form. Set aside until ready.
  3. Add the chilis and salt to a mortar and pound until a smooth paste forms. Be careful with the pepper pieces jumping at you, especially your eyes. See notes for how to prevent this from happening. 
  4. Add the lemongrass and galangal. These two ingredients are the toughest and most fibrous ones on the ingredient list. Pound these away until a smooth paste forms. This will be your hardest part about using the mortar and pestle. The best part? It's downhill from here and goes by pretty quickly after these two. 
  5. Add shallots and garlic. Pound away to a smooth paste. Are you getting your forearm workout yet? (; 
  6. Add cilantro stems, kaffir zest or leaves, and the ground-up spices. Grind to paste.
  7. Add the tamarind paste and use the pestle to stir to blend the ingredients in the paste form together. 
  8. And finally. The only thing left at this point is the shrimp paste! Add the shrimp paste last and grind together well with your pestle. The shrimp paste is the softest ingredient on the list and should be the final item added to the mortar and pestle. It helps bind all the ingredients together into a smooth, soft paste. 


  • Ground white peppercorn and coriander powder can be substituted for whole seeds. Use only half the powdered spices as specified in the recipe card. There's no need to toast the ground spices before making the paste.
  • When using a mortar and pestle method, be careful that some hot ingredients might bounce out of the mortar. Use a kitchen towel to lightly wrap around the opening of the mortar for extra caution. Eyeglasses are helpful as a safety tool, too. (:
  • Fresh red chilies can be used as a substitute, but be sure to remove the seeds to help reduce the spiciness. Use kitchen gloves to do this.
  • A mini food chopper or processor is key to making the paste. The large ones are too big and will not chop ingredients well.
  • Use a spice grinder if you have a small food processor. Make the paste in batches and combine it in a small bowl.

* Thank you so much for visiting my blog! This is truly a passion for me. If you have enjoyed these recipes and appreciate the hard work I put into them, I would love it if you would share them with your friends! Your recommendation is the highest review I could hope for, and I’d appreciate it! **

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Category: pastes
  • Method: food processor
  • Cuisine: Thai