June 26, 2011

Tom Kha Gai (Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

This is my absolute favourite Thai dish

Taste of Thailand part one. 

Just one of the many counters full of things I didn't recognise!
My Dad at the market
Well hello again! I have survived and returned from my week long holiday in Bangkok. I went there to meet my Dad. Since I've moved to Australia, our annual NYC trip is a bit far for me, so we decided to meet in Bangkok this year instead. What a fantastic trip!

The weather was very hot and humid, which made typical tourist-style activities a little uncomfortable. Patpong night market is hot and obtrusive as it is, who needs to add 35 degree heat and high humidity? So, Dad and I kept ourselves busy with some activities and a lot of wining and dining. We are both foodies, and so the tastes of Thailand were quite important! And we sure got a lot of tastes.

One of the highlights of our trip was a cooking class from *link*. This was such an awesome experience. We met Angsana, our teacher, at a sky train stop in the suburbs. She then took us to a traditional Thai fresh food market. Now that was interesting! From live frogs to eels to chicken feet and mushrooms that looked like human ears, they had it all and then some. Dad and I had previously chosen our three dishes, so Angsana led us through the market like an expert picking up every ingredient we needed.

Ill pause the story there, and continue it with the next recipe. For now, I'll share my absolute favourite Thai dish - Tom Kha Gai soup. Angsana taught us that this soup should go in sour, then taste sweet and finish spicy. That is exactly how it turned out. I add steamed rice to make this a full meal, although Angsana said you never add rice to soup, you can pour soup on rice.

250 ml coconut milk
4 stalks lemongrass, cut 1 inch long
8 pieces sliced galangal, about 1cm thick (this is a type of ginger worth finding)
1 cup water
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup straw mushrooms, quartered (use button if you can't find straw)
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5-7 small red and green Thai chilies, sliced thin on diagonal
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
½ cup chopped cilantro

1. Add coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal to a medium saucepan and simmer 5 minutes.
2. Add water, chicken and mushrooms and boil until chicken is cooked, about 10 minutes.
3. Add lime leaves, sugar, salt and chillies and simmer for another 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Add fish sauce, lime juice and cilantro.

Taste soup. Does it start sour, ease into sweet and end with a spicy kick? If not adjust accordingly (with lime juice, sugar and chillies).

Serve and prepare to take your praise!