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, you can add cilantro. 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.
Originally the recipe calls for galangal, kaffir lime leaves and gula djawa (palm sugar). I didn’t have any of these, so I substituted the galangal for a chunk of ginger, the djawa for some regular light brown sugar 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:
- 400 grams of chicken thighs
- 500 mL of coconut milk
- 200 grams of oyster mushrooms
- 5 kaffir lime leaves (I left these out because I didn’t have any)
- 2 fresh chilli peppers
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 piece of ginger
- Spring onion
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
- Cilantro (optional)
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 thigh into cubes, and slice the mushrooms. Slice the peppers into big chunks, cut the lime leaves in half and chop the cilantro.
- Start off by bringing 700mL of water with the chicken stock cube to a boil. Then add the chicken en leave it simmer for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add the coconut milk, lemon grass, chilli pepper, lime leaves, ginger, fish sauce and sugar. Stir it and bring it to a boil. Leave it simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Give the soup a gentle stir and add the mushrooms. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve the soup with a bit of lime juice and some chopped spring onions.
PS: The ginger, lemongrass and chilli peppers are just for taste. You do serve the soup with all these ingredients in it, but you don’t eat them.