Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chicken Coconut Soup (Tome Kha Gai)

This is from Fine Cooking magazine's special 101 Chicken Recipes issue.

Yields 4-5 cups, serves four as a starter or two as a light meal.

This soup is a treasure; a quintessentially Thai dish that you can make at home simply, quickly and with great success. To easily get all of the ingredients, your best bet is an Asian market. However, many supermarkets now carry stalks of lemongrass (look for it in the produce section) and fish sauce, which is usually in the international foods aisle.

Chicken Coconut Soup (Tome Kha Gai)

2 stalks fresh lemongrass
2 TB. fresh lime juice
2 TB. fish sauce (nam pla)
2 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and sliced very thinly crosswise
6 fresh or frozen wild lime leaves, torn or cut into quarters
OR substitute the peel from one lime; use a vegetable peeler to peel wide stripes, then slightly bruise the strips
10-12 thin slices of galangal
OR 10 to 12 thin slices of fresh ginger
8 to 10 fresh hot red and green Thai chiles, stemmed and lightly pressed with the side of a knife
OR 3 or 4 serranos, thinly sliced
2 TB. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 boneless chicken breast cut into bite-size chunks or sliced across into strips
1/4 white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and thinly sliced to yield 1 cup (NOT IN MY HOUSE)
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (shake the can very well before opening)
1 14 oz can of low-salt chicken stock or 1 3/4 cups water

Trim away and discard the root end and the top of each stalk of lemongrass, along with any brittle leaves. Pound each stalk lightly with one of the cans of broth or coconut milk. Cut each stalk crosswise into 2 inch lengths and set aside.

In a large serving bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, scallions, cilantro and half the lime leaves. Set the bowl aside.

Near the stove, place your small piles of the galangal (ginger), lemongrass, remaining lime leaves, chiles, chicken and mushrooms (NOT IN MY HOUSE).

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves ou have reserved. Add the chicken and those stinky mushrooms. Return to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors and cook the chicken.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot soup over the seasonings in the serving bowl and stir well.

Serve Hot!

This is a tasty soup. It took me a while to find all the ingredients, I had to get most of them at Whole Foods. Anyone know of an Asian market? Obviously I do not do mushrooms. I also didn't have the scallions, I forgot. No loss, as far as I can tell. I used the juice of one lime, I didn't measure it. That might have been a mistake, I may have used too much, as the soup was extra sour. But really, it was incredible! Lots of powerful strong flavors!!!


Dancer in DC said...

This was...intense. If we had it again, I'd cut back on the citrus a bit. But it was so very rich and flavorful - this soup is not for the faint of heart! What was surprising was how quickly the chicken absorbed the flavors - it was delicious.

Fish sauce sounds worse than it is. Although I don't recommend taking a whiff of the bottle (unless you're ready to fall on the floor), it adds an extra dose of sour/salty to your dish. I added it to my most recent stir-fry, and was pleased.

Chilefire said...

Fish sauce is a wonderful secret if you can sneak it by your nose on the way into your food. I love this soup (I haven't tried this recipe yet) and order it nearly every time I go for Thai. I have made it at home using a couple of different recipes - I am going to try this one the next time I head out to The Super H Mart in Fairfax. Have you guys ever been to Super H? It is the Wall Mart of Asian food, I am thinking of heading over there with a camera one of these days. We should have a blogger foodie field trip out there and all post our results!