There are several things I love about this classic Thai staple tom kha gai – chicken and coconut soup. Firstly, it’s simple to make – a big plus for me that doesn’t like fussy food. Secondly, it smells pretty darn fabulous as it’s bubbling away, making home smell like a quaint Thai restaurant. Thirdly, and mostly importantly, is this rather unassuming, monochromatic looking soup packs a wallop of flavor that is unexpected especially if you’re a tom kha gai novice.
At the risk of sounding like an obnoxious judge on an overrated cooking show, this soup really does bombard your senses in the best ways possible with well-balanced, hedonistic flavors and smells.
If you’re considering making this and you’ve already read through the recipe then I’m going to assume you have an Asian market near-by. For some lucky people you can find all these ingredients at your local grocery store. I’m not going to offer substitutions, if you can’t get the ingredients then sorry but you might want to make something else. Made as I’ve specified in this recipe, you won’t be disappointed.
thai chicken and coconut soup (tom kha gai)
- 1 quart/4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
- 2 x 14 oz (414ml) cans coconut milk
- 1 heaping tablespoon Thai green curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand)
- 3 inch (7.5cm) piece of galangal, peeled and sliced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, white and tender part only, broken in half
- 8 kaffir lime leaves
- 1/4 cup grated palm sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 lb (500g) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped
- 1/2 lb (250g) small white mushrooms, quartered
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro (coriander) leaves
- pinch of salt
- Combine stock, coconut milk, curry paste, galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors.
- Add palm sugar, fish sauce and chicken. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
- Remove slices of galangal, lime leaves, and lemongrass from pan.
- Add mushrooms; cook, uncovered for 5 minutes.
- Add juice and cilantro. Season to taste. Serves 8.