The Ministry of Culture is applying to have Thailand’s world-famous hot and sour prawn soup, Tom Yum Gung, registered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Minister Itthiphol Kunplome said officials at the ministry were preparing documents and gathering information from around the country before submitting the proposal.

Mr Itthiphol pointed out the cultural similarities of each country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), with friendships endured since the founding of the regional bloc 53 years ago. He said that the government and ministry intended to create a role for Thailand in Asean by promoting its cultural uniqueness in the furtherance of international relations.

Recent Asean Day celebrations presented iconic food from each member country to highlight the variety of its regional food.

These included Nom Banh Chok from Cambodia, a rice noodle dish with curry similar to Thailand’s Kanom Chin, and Indonesia’s Lumpia Semarang, which are spring rolls akin to the kingdom’s Po Piah.

Tom Yum is both hot and sour, and it’s one of the main signature dishes that defines Thai flavour.  Typically a chef will use a pork or chicken stock then add the basic fresh staples to create the tom yum.  Here’s a traditional recipe for four diners:


1/2 Cup Yellow Onion Peeled and Quartered

1/2 Cup Carrot Chopped

1/2 Cup Celery Chopped

1/3 Cup Fresh Shallot Peeled

1 Whole Fresh Kaffir Lime Quartered


4 Cups of your vegetable stock

2 Stalks Fresh Lemongrass lightly pounded and sliced diagonally

3 Small Slices Fresh Galangal

3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

3 Tablespoons Lime Juice

3 or 4 Straw Mushrooms

2 Teaspoons Prik Pao Roasted Chili in Oil

20 Large Shrimp

Fresh Cilantro for Garnish

3 Leaves Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves Shredded


Put 18 cups of water into a stock pot, add stock ingredients, cover and simmer for two hours.


Wash the prawns and shell them without removing the tails. Bring stock broth to a boil. Add lemongrass, galangal, fresh chile, and lime leaves. Bring back to a boil then add mushrooms, fish sauce, prik pao and lime juice. Add prawns. As soon as prawns turn pink (cooked through) serve garnished with cilantro.