April 3, 2023

Chicken Wing Tom Yum Soup

Recipe: Pailin Chongchitnant

“Tom yum soup can be made with any kind of meat or seafood, but the version with shrimp is the most popular outside Thailand, probably because it has an intense, rich flavor thanks to the Thai chili paste. The chicken version, however, has a simpler, cleaner-tasting broth, and it is one of the most soul-soothing dishes we have to offer. You can use boneless chicken, but I love using chicken wings in this because they have an extremely high bone-to-meat ratio, which means that in 20 minutes the wings will turn plain water into chicken stock that’s richer and tastier than any stock you can buy. Wings also don’t require any chopping, and I’m all about less cleanup any time!” – Pailin Chongchitnant


  • 5 cups (1.25 L) water
  • 1½ pounds (675 g) chicken drumettes
  • ½ cup (60 g) coarsely chopped shallots
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons (10 to 15 ml) granulated sugar
  • 5 spicy dried chilies, such as Thai chilies or chiles de árbol, or more to taste
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom halves only, smashed and cut in 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
  • 10 thin slices (25 g) galangal 10 makrut lime leaves
  • 3.5 ounces (100 g) shimeji or oyster mushrooms
  • 1½ cups (200 g) halved cherry tomatoes 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) lime juice
  • 7 to 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped Jasmine rice, for serving


Yield: Serves 4

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the chicken drumettes, shallots, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fish sauce and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is fork-tender.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, char the dried chilies for additional smoky flavor. Place the chilies in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir them for a few minutes, until they develop charred spots and smell smoky. Keep an eye on them and don’t walk away! Once charred, set aside.
  3. When the chicken is tender, add the dried chilies (keep them whole for a milder soup, break them up for a spicy soup), lemongrass, galangal, and mushrooms. Twist the makrut lime leaves to bruise
  4. them and release their aroma before tearing them into big chunks and adding to the pot, discarding any big center stems. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes, or just until the tomatoes are soft but still hold their shape. Turn off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce, sugar, or lime juice as needed. You want it to lead with sour and salty. The sweetness is there for balance, but the soup should not taste distinctly sweet. Before serving, you can remove the herbs, as they are not meant to be eaten, though they are traditionally left in the soup. I like to remove only half to make it a little easier to eat while keeping the traditional look. Be sure to remind your guests not to eat them!
  6. Garnish the soup with cilantro and serve with jasmine rice. The meat should be super tender and easy to pry off the bones with a spoon.

Janis Nicolay


Excerpted from Sabai by Pailin Chongchitnant. © 2023 Pailin Chongchitnant. Photographs by Janis Nicolay. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.