Of all the countries I travelled to, I think the food in Thailand is one of the best I ever tasted (together with Vietnamese food, which is delish as well!). One of the best dishes I ate in Thailand was Tom Kha Gai. This is a chicken and coconut soup, which in Thailand is often eaten with rice, like a curry. I like it as soup though. The flavour of Tom Kha Gai is creamy because of the coconut milk, with a bit of spiciness and sourness to it.
And yes, there’s cilantro in it. Apparantly it’s in your DNA whether you like cilantro or not. The people who don’t like it, say it tastes like soap. I’m luckily someone who does like the herb, which makes it easier for me to enjoy Asian food: it’s used in practically every dish. If you don’t like cilantro, just leave it out of this Tom Kha Gai recipe.
The original Tom Kha Gai recipe I used, was this one. But I didn’t have any kaffir lime leaves and no galangal. So I substituted the galangal for a chunk of ginger and I left out the kaffir lime leaves. Not really authentic, I know. But sometimes one has to improvise. Here are the ingredients you will need for this Tom Kha Gai recipe, with my substitutes in italic.
Ingredients (for 2p)
- 200 grams of chicken
- 3 cups coconut milk (add some water or chicken stock if it’s too thick)
- 1 thumb chunk of galangal (I used fresh ginger)
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 small white onion (I used a spring onion)
- 1 tomato
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (I left these out because I didn’t have any)
- 100 grams of oyster mushrooms (I used white mushrooms)
- 3 – 5 Thai chilies (I used 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice (to taste)
- Small bunch of cilantro
Tom Kha Gai recipe
- Prep your ingredients: peel the piece of ginger and cut it into thin slices. Slice off the bottom of the lemon grass, remove the outer layer and cut it into 1 inch pieces. Cut the chicken into cubes, and slice the mushrooms and (spring) onion. Cut the tomato into wedges. Chop the cilantro.
- Start off by cooking half the coconut milk in a sauce pan, together with the ginger and the lemongrass. When it’s almost boiling, turn down the heat. You don’t want it to boil. Stir the soup gently and add the chicken and the rest of the coconut milk.
- Optional: I wanted the soup to be a bit thinner, so I added some chicken stock. Don’t add too much, you don’t want to tone down the coconut flavour too much.
- Give the soup a gentle stir and add the mushrooms. Also toss in the spring onion.
- Stir it very gently. Just before it comes to a boil again, add the tomato. If you have kaffir lime leaves, break them with your hands to release the flavour and add them to the soup. Then add some salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Don’t overdo it, you can easily add some more later on. Mix the tom kha gai gently and slowly for about 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t come to a full boil – and if it does – turn down the heat to even lower.
- After 5 to 10 minutes, the chicken and veggies should be cooked. Turn off the heat completely. Now add the chopped cilantro to the soup and add some lime juice to taste.
- Taste well: you might want to add some cayenne pepper, salt or lime juice to balance out the flavours.