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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tom Kha Gai

(This recipe might not do many of you much good because you either have to go to an oriental market, or order the ingredients online. It's worth it though!) Kellen and I went to eat at a Thai restaurant two weeks ago. Soup is served as a main course at some restaurants like these so I asked Kellen if he wanted to share and get soup and one other dish. He said no, he wasn't in the mood for soup. So I ordered a half order anyway. It was love at first bite and Kellen agreed, begging me to learn how to make it. I researched the recipe online the very next day and found this one on a recipe blog called (other great recipes here also). Kellen and I made a trip to an oriental market to get most of the ingredients. This was a fun experience all in itself. It was like walking into a foreign country but we got all the authentic ingredients. I made it last night and was pleasantly surprised that it turned out very similar to the restaurant's. This soup is so silky, flavorful, and comforting. I know it will be requested again.

Tom Kha Gai


2 19 ounce cans of coconut milk (I prefer Mae Ploy brand, but Cha Khao is also good)
1 quart chicken broth or stock
5 1/4″ thick quarter-sized to half-dollar sized slices of fresh or frozen galangal root
3 stalks lemongrass–bottom 1/3 only, bottom of stalks trimmed, and outer layers stripped away–cut into three equal pieces and bruise with the back of the cleaver
5 kaffir lime leaves, or the zest of two regular limes (I just cut the zest off in big pieces with a peeler to make it easier to fish out when all the flavor is gone from it)
2 tablespoons red curry paste, or to taste (recipe here, or you can use Mae Ploy brand–it is good)
fish sauce to taste*
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thinly
1 whole boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into thin strips
juice of two limes or to taste*
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
3 scallion tops, thinly sliced
red and green Thai bird chiles, sliced thinly as a garnish


Combine coconut milk, chicken broth, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, zest or oil, and curry paste in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer. Season to taste with fish sauce. Turn down heat and allow to simmer for at least one half hour, forty minutes is better.

Fish out galangal and lemongrass. Add mushrooms and chicken. Simmer until chicken is done. Fish out lime leaves, add lime juice to taste, and garnish with cilantro leaves, scallion tops and sliced chilis.**

The flavor should be a balance of spicy, refreshingly sweet and herbal and sour, with a musky note from the galangal.

*The fish sauce is what makes it salty and cannot be skipped. I would add 1-2 Tbsp to start, then to taste after adding lime (I read that it tastes pretty bad without the lime. It tames the fish sauce). I would also add one lime to start, then to taste.
**In the restaurant it is served with red onions and fresh tomato. Great additions.

1 comment:

kari j said...

Hi, I'm one of Taylor's friends. I just HAD to comment on this post because Tom Kha Gai has been my FAVE soup for the longest time! I am a thai-food-fiend! I will have to try this recipe once I get some time on my hands :) (Got a 2 year old and a 2 month old)