Tom Kha Gai - Coconut and Galangal Soup with Chicken

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I have in possession some lovely young galangal carried in all the way from Banchang, Thailand.

They were gifts from some of our friends there.

There are many lovely dishes one can whip up with these beauties. One of them is Tom Kha Gai, the delicious soup dish which has often been overshadowed here by the more popular Tom Yum.

The word "Tom" means "to boil". "Kha" means galangal and "gai" means chicken. The main infusion herb used here is galangal. And just in case you think I can speak Thai, I got inspiration for this recipe from The Principles of Thai Cookery by Chef McDang

If you have the right ingredients, this soup is easy to make. If you do not have these young beauties, the older Malaysians ones will do.

As for the chicken, the carcass goes to the stock and the boneless meat diced up for the soup. You can do it yourself. Or at the wet market, asked them to prepare the chicken this way for you. They will debone the thigh and breast meat and leave the carcass for you. $8-10 per chicken. Chop, chop, tear, slice and in a minute he hands it all to you. Convenient.

You won't want to snack on these
Tom Kha Gai - Coconut and Galangal Soup with Chicken
Download Recipe in PDF here

chicken bones
4 litres
1.   Debone the chicken and reserve the carcass for the stock
2.  Simmer the bones in water for about 30 minutes. (Basically, you are preparing a chicken stock)
coconut milk
boiled bamboo
young  galangal
lemon grass
small chilies (chili padi)
kaffir lime leaves

from 2 coconuts
1-2 pieces
20 pieces
2 stalks
5-10 pieces
3 pieces
3.   Add the coconut milk.
4.   Slice the bamboo into very thin strips and add to the soup
5.   Slice the galangal into very thin pieces. Add to the soup
6.   Bruise the lemon grass (give it a good whack with the back of your cleaver or twist them with your bare handsJ) and add to the soup.
7.   Add the small red chilies and lime leaves.
debone chicken meat
About 500 gms
8.   Add the diced chicken meat. Simmer for another 5 minutes
lime juice
palm sugar
fish sauce
coriander leaves

9.   Adjust taste with palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. It should have a sour-salty taste with a hint of sweetness.
10.  Serve immediately. Garnish with coriander leaves

You can use straw mushrooms in place of the bamboo shoots. But I love the sliced crunchy bamboo shoots and the way they absorb the flavours in the soup. The slice young galangal can be eaten too and lovely to the bite.

As the scent of the galangal is strong, don't use too much of it (4-6 pieces per bowl of soup as an estimate). Use the Thai limes ("shin kam"), which are larger and different from the smaller and darker green ones ("kat chai"). The larger Thai limes are less sour and more fragrant.  
Serve Tom Gha Kai hot with rice. Enjoy this simple-to-make but lovely refreshing Thai soup.
Steaming hot from the pot. I wish I had the opportunity and time for some photos of it bowled but
you can almost smell it here
And by the way, coming back to our friends in Banchang, they are doing a wonderful work amongst orphans at the Bethlehem House. Do keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Children at Bethlehem House.

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