Fish with Tom Yam Sauce

Fish with Tom Yam Sauce

This Thai-inspired dish is my mother’s favorite fish cuisine. She loves everything sweet, sour and spicy. We made use of instant tom yam paste for this dish. 

Round scad or “ikan kembong” (in local language) is the most affordable type of seawater fish in this area. For USD 2.50 a kilo, we can get 6 pieces of fish. This type of fish is mostly deep-fried or pan-fried. I am yet to see it cooked any other way. Somehow it is always fried till dry – and cooked again with some spicy or sweet sauce. The meat is always a bit tough for me, but the delicious sauce covers it up.

Fresh spices is added in spite of the instant paste. Lemongrass, wild ginger flower buds and vietnamese mint rounds up the tom yam flavor, and bring it to another level.



2 stalks Wild Ginger Flower Buds or Torch Ginger (Bunga Kantan)

5 stalks lemongrass

200 gr instant tom yam paste

30 gr galangal

4 salam leaves

4 kaffir lime leaves

10 gr bird’s eye chili

1/2 tomato

1 cup loosely packed vietnamese mint / coriander

1/2 tablespoon sugar

2 cups water

500 gr (3 pcs) round scad / other type of fish

1 cup cooking oil for deep frying fish + 2 tablespoons cooking oil for stir frying spices


  • Cut wild ginger flower buds into two halves, length wise. Remove the first couple of sheets of the lemongrass, cut off the top part – only use the first 5 inch of the stalks. Wash galangal (to be used whole)
  • Wash the fish and cut off the heads. Pat dry
  • Heat 1 cup cooking oil in pan. Deep fry fish till dry, about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove and pat dry of any excess oil
  • Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a wok / pan. Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves, galangal and chili. Stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Add tom yam paste and wild ginger flower buds. Cook for another 2 minutes
  • Stir in water, vietnamese mint and sugar. Mix well
  • Cover and simmer for 3 minutes
  • Add fish. Stir well till coated with the sauce
  • Serve with steamed rice


  • Any type of fish can be used
  • If a milder version is preferred, reduce the amount of the paste and the chili. 
  • Grill method can also be used instead of deep frying
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6 Responses to “Fish with Tom Yam Sauce”

  1. 1

    Farina — November 26, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

    Jun, your mom and I can be good buddies. I love sweet, sour and spicy!
    I also tend to deep-fry fish coz I love them crunchy but hey as long as they are fish, I will eat them be it in a soup or deep-fried or grilled. :)

    Farina’s last blog post..Please Give Me a Name

  2. 2

    [eatingclub] vancouver || js — November 26, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

    Everytime I have scad or these great oily seawater fishes, I just broil them or fry them. Sometimes I want to try cooking them some other way! So thanks for the inspiration.

    [eatingclub] vancouver || js’s last blog post..Tea-smoked Salmon Sandwich with Sweet Dijon Mustard

  3. 3

    noobcook — November 27, 2008 @ 12:04 am

    you made me drool again! argh you made me crave for tom yum fish at 8am hehe

    noobcook’s last blog post..Stir fry broccoli with hoisin sauce, cashew nuts, orange and baby corn

  4. 4

    mycookinghut — November 27, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

    I wish I could have this for my lunch!! Looks really good.. I miss the taste of sweet, sour, and spicy… This recipe is great! Not sure if I could get Round scad…

    mycookinghut’s last blog post..Tagliatelle with Spicy Sausage, Courgette, and Petit Pois

  5. 5

    Yuang Tando — December 29, 2011 @ 6:51 am

    You said “….This type of fish is mostly deep-fried or pan-fried. I am yet to see it cooked any other way….”

    Are you sure? Cause it happen that we in Aceh almost always cook this as ikan gulai lemak or as the-hotter-spicier ikan asam pedas dish. It also goes well as pepes material, either the spicier version or the milky rich version of them. Even if you don’t have enough time in the kitchen, the fish will as delicious as ever if you only present them as goreng balado.

    All being said, I am a big fan of your blog from the beginning of discovering this gem of yours.


  6. 6

    soodeh — February 8, 2012 @ 7:29 am

    what is the name of best brand sauce for cooking tomyam thanks

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