Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, Tom Kha Gai in Thai, is up there with my other favorite Thai soups. It is silky, aromatic, tangy, and spicy. All the ingredients are fresh and that’s what I like most about Thai food. How bad could that be? 🙂 Plus, it’s getting colder here in the midwest so a warm cup of soup is definitely not a bad thing. Sometimes I wonder, why Thai people eat a lot of spicy food? Like the weather there is not hot enough. Seriously, it is literally summer all year long. ha ha! I’m no exception, it’s in my blood. I love spicy food, even though my tolerance has gone down quite a bit since I’ve lived in the USA.
If you like Thai soup, here are a few recipes I’ve post on www.letscooksomefood.com
Back to Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, Tom Kha Gai.
First, let me tell you about the veggies and herbs. Here they are, oyster mushrooms (you can use white button mushrooms if you can’t find them), kaffir lime leaves, cilantro leaves, galangal, lemongrass, Thai chilies, shallots, and lime. These all together will give the creamy coconut broth a really nice flavor.
For protein, I’m using chicken breasts today. I sliced 2 chicken breasts thinly. You can also use shrimp instead of chicken.
You may not be familiar with some of these herbs I mentioned earlier, so let me try my best to describe them. 🙂 You can find all of these special herbs in your local Thai or Asian grocery store.
Starting with lemon grass. Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisines and also as medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. We’re using 1 fresh stalk of lemongrass today. Cut it into 2-3 inch long. Discard the leafy part. Use the back of your knife to pound it, just to bruise it enough to release the flavor. We don’t actually eat it. It’s used to just flavor the soup.
Next, kaffir lime leaves. We don’t eat it either, only used to flavor the soup. Kaffir lime is a citrus fruit native to tropical Asia. The skin is used in many Thai dishes. They are usually mixed in with curry paste. It smells citrusy. We’ll use 4 leaves in our soup today. You can tear them a little bit to release the flavor.
Another one we only use to flavor the soup and don’t actually eat it is Galangal. It is in the same family as ginger. The aroma of galangal is different, Ginger is warm and spicy while Galangal has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. Slice it with a sharp knife. We’ll use 4 slices today.
Another herb that you probably are more familiar with is cilantro or coriander. It’s used in many Thai food dishes and we are going to chop and use it at the end to garnish our Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) today.
Shallot, it has milder taste than onions and I like using it in my Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai). If you can’t find it, you can substitute with red onion. I’m using 2 shallots in this recipe and they were quartered before being dropped into the broth.
Thai chilies, these guys are tiny but super spicy. You don’t have to use them if you’re not a fan of spicy food. I’m using 4 today. I smashed them to release the spiciness.
For the broth, we will use 2 cans of coconut milk. Any brand, it’s no big deal. As you can see, I’m using 2 different brands today.
Fish sauce, it is pungent and has intense salty flavor. We’ll use 3 tablespoons in our soup today. It seems like a lot, but trust me, it will be good. We’re making a big pot of soup.
Let’s cook some food!
Add coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, galangal, and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
Add chicken. Let it cook until it’s no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.
Add mushrooms and smashed Thai chilies, I used four. If you don’t like spicy food, you can omit them or use less. Let them cook for a few minutes.
Turn of the heat. Squeeze 1 lime into the soup. I like my pretty tangy so I used 1 1/2 lime.
Garnish with some chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with some Jasmin rice or quinoa.
I hope you give this Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) a try. 🙂 The recipe card is below.
- 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 3 oz. oyster mushroom (or white button mushrooms)
- 2 (13.5 oz.) cans coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 stalk of lemon grass, cut into 2-3 inches
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 shallots, quartered
- 4 slices of galangal
- the juice of 1-2 limes
- cilantro leaves
- 4 smashed Thai chilies (more or less and totally optional)
- Add coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, galangal, and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
- Add chicken. Let it cook until it's no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and smashed Thai chilies. If you don't like spicy food, you can omit them or use less. Let them cook for a few minutes.
- Turn of the heat. Squeeze 1 lime into the soup. Taste it, add more if needed.
- Garnish with some chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with some Jasmin rice or quinoa.