Tom Kha Gai


Stephane Breton

If there is a more popular Thai dish than this one, I don't know what it could be. And everyone thinks it must be very tough to make, but it couldn't be easier, as you will see. Chicken coconut soup is Thai grandmother food on steroids.

This is a simple Thai recipe, and a favorite with many Asian food fans, all the ingredients can be collected from local Asian supermarkets that are springing up everywhere.

Serves 6


3 cups rich chicken broth

1 golf-ball-sized piece of galangal (Siamese ginger) or conventional ginger root

1 large stalk lemon grass, trimmed and sliced thin.

2 Kaffir lime leaves

2 cans (14 oz. each) unsweetened coconut milk

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thin

2 tbs. chili-tamarind paste (nam phrik pao) available in Asian markets

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2-1/2 tbs. golden brown sugar

2-1/2 tbs. fish sauce

1/2 lb. straw mushrooms (canned is fine) or fresh oyster mushrooms -- or both!

5 small Thai red chilies, sliced in half lengthwise

Cilantro leaf for garnish


Bring the stock, lime leaves, lemon grass, sugar, galangal and chili paste to a boil in small pot.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken and mushrooms and bring to a simmer, quickly stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Float the chilies on the soup and serve, garnishing with cilantro sprigs.

I serve this dish with sticky rice on the side and a quick salad of chilies, vinegar, sugar, onion and cucumber.

The Rice

3 cups Thai sticky rice

Soak rice overnight in enough of a volume of water to cover the rice by 4 inches.

Drain well and place in a conical straw steaming basket for sticky rice, or in a damp muslin lined sieve set over a pot of boiling water.

Cover the rice with a damp cloth, and do not let the bottom of the sieve touch the water.

Steam for 25 minutes and let rice rest for 10 minutes.

Turn rice out into a bowl and immediately cover with a warm, damp cloth.


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