Prep & cooking time 5 minutes

Serves 2

The classic Bloody Mary is the ultimate hangover cure, but a tom yum Bloody Mary will bring your body and senses to full attention. Fiery, sour and spicy tom yum paste, which can be purchased from your local Asian supermarket or online, is a roasted blend of chiles, galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves that hails from Thailand. The distinctive and uncompromisingly sharp character of tom yum works beautifully in this version of the vodka- and tomato juice-based cocktail. It adds an alluring Thai fragrance with just the right amount of heat to warm the mouth instead of the traditional Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.

There are endless varieties of store-bought tom yum pastes. Some are more citrusy, others spicier, others heavier on umami. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, check that it doesn’t contain dried shrimp. Use this recipe as a guide, but the final seasoning will come down to your preference and your brand of paste, so have a little taste as you mix it all together.

Try to avoid thick, black tamarind concentrates from India for this recipe, which will overpower the drink. Instead, look for the brown-colored tamarind pastes or concentrates from Thailand or Vietnam, which provide a more delicate sour balance. I prefer my Bloody Mary with a single shot of vodka, but you can increase this to your liking. If you’re looking to make yours a virgin, just omit the vodka altogether.


TST_A Splash of Soy Book cover A Splash of Soy: Everyday Food from Asia Lara Lee
  • 1¼ cups tomato juice

  • 2–3 tbsp vodka, plus more (optional) to taste

  • 4 tsp tom yum paste, plus more (optional) to taste

  • 2½ tsp tamarind paste

  • freshly squeezed juice of ½ lime (about 1 tbsp)

  • pinch of fine sea salt

  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 lemongrass stalk or trimmed scallion stalk

  • 2 English cucumber spears, cut into 3-inch lengths

  • ice cubes or crushed ice, to serve

  • lime wedges, to serve


Put the tomato juice, vodka, tom yum paste, tamarind, lime juice, salt and pepper in a cocktail shaker or glass jar and shake vigorously to combine. 

Lightly bruise the lemongrass by hitting it with a rolling pin or the back of a knife, and cut it in half lengthways. Trim the pieces down to about 3 inches. If using scallion, just cut it in half lengthways and trim the pieces to 3 inches. 

Put generous handfuls of ice in two tall glasses. Pour the cocktail over the ice and garnish with the lemongrass or scallion and cucumber. Serve immediately, with lime wedges.

Excerpted from A Splash of Soy by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2023, Lara Lee. Photographs by Louise Hager

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