My father is the greatest cook I’ve ever met. Although I have several favorites, one of his best dishes happens to be one of his most simple dishes: the Thai Coconut Soup. This soup is sweet, sour, spicy, and savory.
Coconut Thai Soup, also known as Tom Kha Gai, is a relatively simple dish – really the hardest part is finding the materials. And if you can’t find all the pieces, feel free to omit sections. As long as you have the chicken soup, coconut juice, lime juice, and chili paste, you can still make a fine soup.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 cups of chicken soup or canned chicken broth
5.5 ounces of sliced ginger
1 stalk of lemon grass (without the outside leaves), cut into angled, semi-thin pieces (if you don’t have lemongrass, you can double the lime-juice)
12 Kaffir lime leaves OR the peel for one lime, cut into small strips
2 cans (13.5 ounces) of unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces OR 1 pound of peeled small shrimp
2 tablespoons of Chili-Garlic Sauce(Lee Kum Lee Brand) OR red curry paste
¼ cup fresh lemon or lime juice
2.5 tablespoons golden brown sugar
2.5 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
½ pound of sliced mushrooms
5 small Thai chilies (or other spicy peppers) sliced thinly
1 stalk (¼ cup) of cilantro leaves, chopped finely
How to make Thai Coconut Soup:
1. Add ginger, chicken stock and lemon grass into a large pot. Turn the heat on medium and bring to a boil.
2. While stock is boiling, in a separate jar combine chili-garlic sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and lime/lemon juice but DO NOT ADD. When stock has boiled for 10 minutes add Kaffir lime leaves, tear each leave into half and add it to the pot, or if you are using the sliced lime leaves, add them.
3. Once the water boils, wait one minute and add chicken or shrimp, and both cans of coconut milk.
Wait for the soup to boil again.
4. Bring the pot to a boil again and add the chili-garlic/lime/sugar/fish sauce mixture.
5. Add sliced mushrooms into the pot and cook until tender (about two minutes)
6. Add the chilies in the pot and let them soak for a minute.
7. Add cilantro right before you serve the soup.
8. Serve immediately.
Note: This soup tastes different as time passes. The bowl you serve right after adding cilantro to the soup is very different than the bowl you serve ten minutes after adding cilantro.
Not to mention the bowl served one hour later.
The best thing about this soup is the fact that it is always changing. And it is always delicious. I’ve had it in restaurants, from soup mixes, at as a side dish – and no one beats my dad’s recipe.
PS – it’s delicious!
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