Tom kha Gai
Author: Mark Wiens (EatingThaiFood.com)
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 3 – 4
- 2 chicken breasts
- 6 cups coconut milk(If you use a can or box of coconut milk, you might want to add some water to make it less thick)
- 1 thumb chunk of galangal(available at stores with large international sections)
- 3 stalks of fresh lemongrass (available at stores with large international sections)
- 1 big white onion (or 2 small white onions)
- 2 tomatoes
- 6 kaffir lime leaves(if not found in international grocery stores you can easily order online, this ingredient is critical for flavor)
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms
- 5 – 10 Thai chilies (or 1-2 cayenne)
- ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 4 tablespoons of lime juice
- small bunch of cilantro
- First take a thumb sized chunk of galangal, cut off the stems, and cut the root part into thin slices. It can be a little tough, so you might have to hit the top of your knife with your palm.
- Next grab your lemongrass, slice off the bottoms, pull off the outer skin layer, and then slice it diagonally into about 1 inch strips. This is just going to help release its amazing fragrance.
- Turn on your stove to medium heat, and add about 3 cups (or ½) of the coconut milk to a medium sized saucepan. Put the pot on the heat and immediately toss in the sliced galangal and lemongrass.
- As your coconut milk begins to heat, move back over to your cutting board and slice up the chicken. I used 2 chicken breasts for this recipe. Slice the chicken into medium sized chunks – they can be kind of big in size.
- Just before the coconut milk comes to a boil, add the chicken, and then add the other remaining 3 cups of coconut milk. Now, turn down the heat to a medium low, as you don’t want the coconut milk to heat too fast or burn.
- Prepare your Thai chilies by peeling off the stems and then just slice them diagonally. Go ahead and add them directly to the soup.
- Give the soup a quick stir, and then add about 200 grams of oyster mushrooms (it was about 2 handfuls for me).
- Your coconut milk should not boil, but just maintain a nice low heat. Because coconut milk is so delicate, when you stir, be sure to move your spoon in 1 direction only, otherwise you run the risk of the coconut milk getting too shaken and it will start to curdle. Be gentle with the coconut milk.
- Move back over to your cutting board and peel and slice 2 small white onions into thick wedges (if your onion is really big, just use 1). Immediately toss the onions into the soup.
- Next, cut your tomatoes in the same way as your onions, into thick wedges. Wait until your tom kha gai (ต้มข่าไก่) is just about to boil, and then add the tomatoes.
- Take the kaffir lime leaves, break them with your hand, and toss them directly into the soup. Breaking the kaffir lime leaves is going to release their flavor.
- Now add about ½ teaspoon of salt to begin with (taste to add more)
- Mix your tom kha gai slowly and gently, for about 5 – 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t come to a full boil – and if it does – turn down the heat to even lower. You want the chicken, onions, tomatoes, and other ingredients to be fully cooked, but you don’t want to overcook the coconut milk.
- After about 5 – 10 minutes of cooking, go ahead and turn off the heat completely.
- Go back to your cutting board, slice up a handful of fresh cilantro, and add it to the soup. Give it a quick stir, and the cilantro will cook enough from the already hot soup.
- The final step is to juice a couple of limes into a separate bowl and then add about 4 tablespoons of lime juice to the tom kha gai (ต้มข่าไก่). Again, just give it a quick and gentle stir, and it’s ready to be served.
- Make sure you do some taste-testing to make sure it’s salty and sour enough. You may need to add a little extra salt or lime juice to get the flavor you want.
When you tom kha gai is ready, dish it into a bowl, and serve it with a plate of hot fresh steamed rice. Enjoy!