Soothing Rice and Ginger Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    2–4

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I first enjoyed this treat at the famed Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Arriving late in the evening after a long and exhausting flight, I needed something soothing and restorative. I ordered this dish, Khao Tom, described on the menu as a rice soup. When it arrived, I saw that it was a Thai version of something very familiar to me, a Chinese congee (or conjee) – a porridge or gruel made from grains, beans and vegetables. In south China it is regarded as a ‘cooling’ or ‘balanced’ food, just right for calming the nerves. Ginger, of course, is famously medicinal too. That evening I had discovered what would become one of my favourite Thai dishes.

The Thai version is more soup-like than a congee and it may be served at any time. It is a true ‘comfort food’, savoury and nurturing, and so popular that it is served as a speciality on Thai Airways. Any type of cooked meat or fish may be added to the soup but I prefer it plain and simple.

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Ingredients

  • 110 g (4 oz) cooked rice
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

Garnish

  • 2 finely sliced spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded ginger
  • 2 small fresh red or green Thai chillies, seeded if desired, finely sliced
  • handful fresh coriander leaves

Method

In a large pot, combine the cooked rice and stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and pepper to the mixture and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds or until it is slightly browned. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Pour the rice and stock mixture into the wok and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn into a soup tureen, garnish with the cooked garlic, spring onions, ginger, chillies and coriander leaves, and serve at once.

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