Tom Kha Gai recipe is a recipe for classic chicken and coconut soup and one of the most popular Thai dishes. Traditionally in Thailand, it is eaten like a curry with rice rather than a soup but it can make a good first course as well.
The ingredients for Tom Kha Gai recipe are simple and at the same time quite exotic. Of course, those are widespread in Thailand and throughout Asia in general, but if you live in the US or Europe you can get all you need in Asian supermarkets or some of them are available online.
Anyway, Tom Kha Gai is not about the ingredients, it’s all about the way and method of preparation, especially for coconut milk. Generally, Tom Kha Gai is all about coconut milk. It’s the base of the dish and it can make your soup incredibly smooth and tender, or spoil everything.
Of course, freshly squeezed coconut milk is the best option, but if you don’t have such an opportunity can milk will still work well.
Keep in mind that coconut milk is very delicate, especially when it’s fresh. In this recipe as well as in any other that uses coconut milk make sure you stir it gently and in the same directional flow. Otherwise, it will clump or curdle, so remember to stir it slowly.
Next key ingredient for Tom Kha Gai recipe is Galangal and actually, it is even present in the name of the dish (kha means galangal). It is really important and cannot be substituted. Sometimes galangal is mistaken for ginger, but it’s incorrect. The taste and flavor of galangal are different, it has an earthy spice flavor and is widely used in Thai cuisine for different curries and soups. It is used only while cooking. When the soup is boiling galangal releases its wonderful flavor, but you normally don’t eat it, you just throw away the pieces or leave it in the bottom of a bowl.
KAFFIR LIME LEAVES
Another important part is kaffir lime leaves. The same as galangal, these are just boiled in the soup for the citrus zest of flavor, but you don’t eat them.
Like most of the Thai dishes, Tom Kha Gai also contains red chilies but it doesn’t mean that it is really spicy. On the contrary, it is supposed to be very mild, so 5-10 peppers are fine, or you can adjust it to your taste.
Almost always it is made with chicken, usually boneless together with oyster mushrooms for their nice and meaty taste and delicious flavor which is released when cooked in the coconut milk. If you don’t have these any other mushrooms will work. The chicken is fried till brown and then added to the soup.
To make your soup a little sour, add lime juice at the end, to give the final fresh touch to the dish.
The dish comes together extremely quickly and it tastes even better the next day when the flavors fully meld with the broth. Keep it in the fridge and enjoy!
- Chicken fillets ( cubed)- 2 or 500 gm
- Coconut oil - 2-3 tbsp
- Onion ( quartered)- 1
- Coconut milk- 1 can
- Chicken stock- 4 cups
- Lemongrass ( finely chopped)- 3 stalks
- Galangal ( chopped) - 1 tbsp
- Tomatoes( diced)- 2 large
- Thai sillies- 3
- Oyster mushrooms/ or any of your choice- 400 gm
- Kaffir leaves- 7-8
- Fresh lime juice- 4 tbsp or as needed
- Fresh cilantro- 2 tbsp
- Salt- to taste
- Heat 3 tbs of coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken fillets and fry about 5 minutes or until slightly browned.
- In the meantime cut off the stem of the galangal and finely chop the root.
- Take the lemongrass, remove the outer layer and the end root. Slice the tender inner flesh ( this will help to release its wonderful fragrance in this soup).
- Add the galangal & the lemongrass to the chicken. Fry 2-3 minutes , then pour 1 cup of chicken stock and cook another 5 minutes. Add the onion bring the soup to boil. Allow to boil 5 minutes.
- Take out the cooked onion and lemon grass from the soup.
- In a medium bowl mix together the coconut milk with 3 cups of chicken stock. Pour it into the saucepan. Just before the coconut milk comes to a boil, add the mushrooms & the tomatoes. Cook 5 -7 minutes over low heat.
- Don't bring the coconut milk to boil, just maintain a low heat. Stir the soup very gently in one direction only, otherwise the coconut milk will start to curdle.
- Take the kaffir lime leaves, tear them with your hand in halves, and throw them into the soup. Breaking the leaves will help to release their flavor. Add salt & toss the red chilies into the soup too.
- Cook the soup for about 5 - 10 minutes over very low heat. You want all the ingredients to be fully cooked, but try not to overcook the coconut milk.
- Turn off the heat. Add the lime juice & the chopped cilantro. Give it a quick stir.
- The soup is ready to be served!
TOM KHA GAI RECIPE FROM SCRATCH
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