Fragrant, spicy, and absolutely delicious, Tom Kha Gai Soup is the Thai and Lao equivalent of Coconut Chicken Soup. The main ingredients are galangal, or Tom Kha in Thai, and Gai which means Chicken. Delicately seasoned with coconut milk, chicken broth, strips of white chicken, fish sauce, galangal or ginger root, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and a few fresh red chiles, the fragrant ingredients create a spicy milky broth that is wonderfully aromatic, slightly sour and just a wee bit salty from the fish sauce. Thai-style Tom Kha Gai doesn't use dill, whereas Lao-style Tom Kha Gai usually does. The Thais' answer to dill weed is cilantro. Lovely, light and refreshing, Tom Kha Gai is one of my favourite soups and is delicious anytime of the year, but especially so when combined with a Thai-inspired meal of spicy chicken satays, fresh spring rolls, an aromatic curry, steamed rice and cold Singha lager.
Tom Kha Gai Soup
2 cups chicken broth
5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly
1-inch piece of galangal or ginger root, sliced thinly
2-inch length of lemongrass, bruised
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
4 oz chicken breast, sliced thinly
5 oz coconut milk
4-6 small red chiles, slightly crushed, to taste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the broth, then add the lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce and lime juice. Stirring thoroughly, bring to a boil. Then add the chicken and coconut milk. Bring back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until heated through. Serve in small bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro.