Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk, 'Tom Kha Gai'
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This is a mild but spicy chicken soup (it can also be made with shrimp, pork, beef or mushrooms), flavored with the unique flavor of galangal ("kha" in Thai) which creates a heavenly taste when combined with hot chile peppers, coconut milk, lime leaves and lemongrass.
The recipe below is a common, basic method using a prepackaged soup broth or bullion cube. To make things more tasty, try preparing your own broth from scratch. To make a simple broth for Tom Kha, put a carrot, half stalk celery, one medium chopped onion, perhaps a half cup of chopped daikon, and a few cloves of fresh garlic, into a pot of water. Simmer for an hour or so and you have a good broth, to be used in place of the 16 oz broth mentioned in recipe below. We also prefer increasing the amount of coconut milk to broth, to a 1:1 ratio.
A nice variant to recipe below is our Tom Kha Salmon recipe made by the Prime Minister of Thailand.
16 fluid ounces soup broth (chicken stock)
Note the number of red peppers is a personal choice. It can be as few as half a chilli per diner, to as many as 8-10 per diner, but the dish should retain a balance of flavors and not be overwhelmend by the chili peppers. We suggest about 8-12 chili peppers for this recipe.
Heat the stock, add the lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, and lime juice. Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and add the chicken and coconut milk, then the chile peppers. Bring back to the boil, lower the heat to keep it simmering and cook for about 2 minutes (until the chicken is cooked through). Enjoy!
Not really intended to be eaten as a separate course, we like it served ladled over a bowl of steamed Thai jasmine rice. This quantity serves 4 with other food, but is probably only enough for two if eaten
If you would like to have a decent-tasting tom kha without spending the time to prepare above, we also suggest you try our convenient Tom Ka Paste (click to see description).
Here, in the photo to the right, we prepared the tom kha the same as in the above method, but without any soup stock. The liquid is only coconut milk, and a touch of water. We also added, after it was ladled into a small bowl, a half teaspoon of roasted chile in soybean oil (prik pao). This gave it nice color and flavor. Another option: try a touch of Thai chile oil on top instead of the prik pao.
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Serve Tom Kha in Style. "Hot Pot" bowl with lid.
Traditional method of serving all kinds of Thai soups, in particular Tom Yum and Tom Kha. Many Thai restaurants use this pot with a bit of sterno fuel in the bottom tray, as shown below, or use a small tea lite candle at the base to keep the soup hot. Campers have reported that this is a great little pot because it allows easy heating of food at the campground. It's like a little stove.
This is a good size, 24 cm in diameter (10 inches), capacity of 8 cups. Good for restaurant or home use.
Made of relatively thick, sturdy, buffed, shiny aluminum. We're certain you'll love serving soup in this hot pot. The lid has two handles and the side of the pot has handles for ease of use. Made in Thailand.
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January 15th, 2009
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