Have you ever ordered a dish from a restaurant and thought, “This is good, but I would make some changes”? And that’s not to say the restaurant doesn’t know what it’s doing, but you would rather add (or remove) a few things.
The other day I ordered takeout from the nearby Thai restaurant and I had their Tom Ka soup. I thoroughly enjoyed the broth. It packed so much flavor and just enough spiciness for me. But I wanted more. Specifically, I wanted a lot more vegetables in my soup. So, I decided to try my hand at making Tom Ka Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup).
There was one ingredient (galangal) that I knew I would not find in the supermarket closest to my home. So after work one day, I biked over to a nearby Asian supermarket to get some galangal and then I began my soup experiment. It turns out that this soup is actually pretty easy to make once you have the right ingredients.
This recipe calls for fish sauce. One thing I want to point out about fish sauce is that it has an extremely high sodium content level. Read the nutrition label of your fish sauce. I strongly recommend that you keep your sodium intake in mind when determining how much fish sauce you add.
There is something inexplicably comforting about enjoying a hot bowl of soup on a cool day. So let’s get cooking. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Fun fact: Lemongrass is also called fever grass in the Caribbean. It is consumed as a herbal tea and used as a fever reducer.
Prep Time: 10 minutes . Cook Time: 20 minutes . Yield: Serves 6
6 Cups Vegetable/chicken no salt added broth or water
1 1/2 Lbs Raw Boneless Chicken Breast, cubed
2 Cups Napa Cabbage, chopped
1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
8 Oz Shiitake Mushrooms, stems removed & sliced
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
1 to 4 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Ginger root, minced
1 Can Coconut Milk
1 Large Yellow Onion, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 to 8 Thai Chillies*
3 Lemongrass Stalks
2 Carrots, sliced
1 to 2 inches of galangal**
1/2 Tbsp Olive or Coconut Oil
Zest from 1 lime
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Sugar (optional)
*If you don’t have thai chillies, you can some spiciness by using jalapenos, Sriracha sauce or red pepper flakes.
**If you can’t find galangal, add little more ginger. These two roots have different flavors, but ginger is probably your best substitute.
1. Prepare ingredients: Slice galangal into 4 to 5 large pieces. Remove outer layer of lemongrass stalks; lightly pound stalks with handle of a large knife or another heavy object; slice stalks into 2-inch pieces. Remove stems from chilies and slice them. Set aside these ingredients for now.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger root and garlic to oil; saute, while stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add red curry paste; mix about 30 seconds. Add broth/water, coconut milk, sliced galangal, lemongrass stalks and chillies. Stir and ensure that ingredients are well mixed.
3. Bring soup to a low simmer (do not boil) and then add chicken. Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
4. Stir in the onions, shiitake mushrooms and carrots. Bring soup to low simmer (do not boil) for about 5 to 10 minutes until chicken and vegetables are fully cooked; stir occasionally.
5. Stir in chopped napa cabbage, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and fish sauce. Add salt to taste.
6. Stir in chopped cilantro. Switch off heat. Serve warm.