If you have enjoyed the delights of Thai Tom kha gai (a spicy chicken soup) in restaurants you may want to try to make it at home. The traditional soup features hot and spicy chillies that make your taste buds really stand up and take notice.
The sourness and acidity of the limes and the tang of the lemongrass and other herbs add to the taste and most importantly, boost the fragrance of this lovely dish. It is light on calories and fat, but has high protein and is rich in nutrients form the herbs and spices.
The good news is that it is easy to make at home using the recipe provided.
The ingredient list has been simplified to what is commonly available.
You can choose alternatives for the ingredients such as the chillies and herbs to suit your own preferences. Choose good quality fresh young chicken, preferably organic or free-range.
Try the delightful variations in the recipes below that feature:
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 slices galangal, cut into thin matchsticks (or you can used ginger which is closely related, but galangal is preferred)
3 cups homemade chicken stock (or packaged varieties)
2 kaffir lime leaves
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 cups coconut milk (light version if you prefer)
6 straw, button or other mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, tender parts only, sliced diagonally
2 chicken breast fillets (or thigh meat), skin removed, cut into strips
1–3 red bird’s-eye chillies (very hot), split, seeded and chopped (or other chillies to suit your preference or for a milder version)
Fresh Coriander leaves, to garnish
Add the chicken stock to a large saucepan or pot. Then add the lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, mushrooms and a good pinch of salt and bring slowly to boiling point, and then lower the heat to get a gentle simmer.
Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and then the chicken strips. Simmer the soup uncovered for about 5 minutes. Next add the chillies and coconut milk. Raise the temperature to just below boil point while stirring. Do not boil at this stage as this can cause coconut milk to separate.
Heat gently for a few minutes and adjust the taste by adding more salt, fish sauce and lime juice. The salt tends to give a smoother taste.
Add some torn fresh coriander leaves (or other herbs). Garnish with another herb, some extra chili rings and spoon into bowls to serve.
Add the broth, ginger, lemongrass, curry paste and fish sauce to a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms, coconut milkand red bell peppers and cook slowly until mushrooms are soft (about 5 minutes or so.). Add the peeled shrimp, and cooked for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the lemongrass (after removing the stalks) cilantro and lime juice. Serve as a soup or pour over jasmine rice for a heartier meal option.
Add the sliced pork to the stocks and simmer gently. Add the remaining ingredients to the stock and continuing simmering. If you prefer you can strain the soup though a colander. Keep cooking until the pork is cooked and the mushrooms are tender, (generally about 10 minutes). Just before serving taste the soup and adjust the taste with more lime juice, fish sauce and light soy sauce. Ladle into bowls, topping each serving with a spoonful of chilli paste. Serve with a lime wedge and jasmine rice (optional).
Combine the vegetable broth and coconut milk in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, bringing the mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently while adding the other ingredients. Add lemongrass and ginger, and simmer 10 minutes. Strain the soup broth through mesh strainer into bowl, discarding the lemongrass and ginger. Return the strained liquid to the pot. Add the bell pepper, soy sauce, broccoli, zucchini, brown sugar, mirin, and lime leaves to broth. Simmer gently to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lime leaves, and add tofu to soup. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until tofu is heated through. Serve hot with coriander or other herbs, over rice if preferred.
Add the coconut milk and chicken broth to a heavy pan or Dutch oven and bring to a gentle simmer over moderate heat. Add the coconut sugar and season with a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of fish sauce and mix well. Add the galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and simmer for an additional 5-15 minutes. Serve hot with lime wedges, coriander or other herbs.