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Tom Yum Kha Moo Recipe – How to make Thai Hot and Sour Pork Leg Soup

Updated on September 30, 2010

Tom Yum Kha Moo = Thai hot and sour pork leg soup.

This spicy Thai soup is rich and savory, made from the meat and bones of the pig’s foreleg.

Although pork leg (the part under the picnic shoulder) may be a rarer site in supermarket meat counter displays, any good butcher shop should be able to hook you up with some meaty foreleg segments, and since the demand for this part is low – so too should the price be!

Tom Yum Kha Moo

  • 2 lbs of bone in pork leg, with skin. Thais use the front legs, not the hams, for this dish.
  • 8 to 10 fresh Thai bird chilies, split in half (this will make a moderately spicy soup, use less if you don’t care for very spicy food, but don’t omit entirely, as without the heat this dish may seem a little heavy.)
  • About 7 cups of water
  • 4 or 5 large Thai dried chilies
  • 2 plum tomatoes, each cut into quarters
  • 1 medium cooking onion, cut into wedges
  • 5 or 6 thinly sliced rounds of galangal root
  • 3 sticks of lemon grass. Smash each stalk flat with the side of a cleaver and then cut it into 1 or 2 inch sections
  • 5 lime leaves
  • ½ lb of white mushrooms (optional)
  • 3 Tbls of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbls of lime juice
  • ¼ tsp of MSG (optional)
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • A little oil for sauteeing


  • Cut the pork leg into 1 inch thick segments. You’ll have to use a heavy cleaver to cut through the bones here. The size of the pieces doesn’t matter so much, as long as no piece is larger than can fit in a serving bowl. (A lot of Thai soups have bone-in pieces of meat served at the table in serving bowls…making these types of soup a little more hands on than Western style soups!)
  • Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, and once hot add in the pork pieces, working in batches if necessary, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Brown the pork pieces well on all sides over medium heat. Take a little time with this step to get a nice browning all over, as this browned meat creates a lot of flavor and once you add the pork to the soup – it will brown no further.
  • Put your 7 cups of water into a sauce pot and bring it to a boil, and then add in the lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal route, and let it boil for about a minute before finally adding in the pork pieces.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the pork for about an hour, or until it is reasonably tender. The water will have reduced somewhat - but that's OK, you want t o end up with about 5 cups of liquid in the end.
  • While the pork is cooking, toast the dried chili by sautéing it for a minute or so in a little vegetable oil in a fry pan set over medium. Once the chili takes on some color and starts puffing up, remove it from the heat, or it may start to burn.
  • After the pork is tender, add in the onion, the tomato, the mushrooms, the fish sauce, the MSG (if using) and the fresh chilies.
  • Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes, just to soften the vegetables somewhat and then add in the lime juice and the dried chilies.
  • Taste for seasoning and add more lime juice, fish sauce, or even salt, if necessary.
  • Serve in individual bowls, making sure everyone gets a good chunk of meat to work on in their spicy broth. Garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro on the top.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.


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    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 7 years ago from Southern Ca.

      John -- looks wonderful. We'll try it in S. Ca. this weekend. Lots of sad news coming from Thailand these days. My friend who lives in Bangkok is back here till things quiet down. I hope the unrest hasn''t reached the Chaings. David Russell

    • A la carte profile image

      A la carte 7 years ago from Australia

      I am going to try this when I get time :)