Tom Kha Gai

Chicken Soup with Galangal

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This ubiquitous dish is a well-loved favourite, and it is readily found in restaurants and street food stalls throughout Thailand. Some street food versions even feature innards and congealed animal blood. Regardless of the choice of ingredients, it is the galangal, with its unique peppery zing, that defines tom kha gai and transforms what would otherwise be an ordinary stew of chicken in coconut gravy. For a more robust flavour, use chicken stock in place of water.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) coconut cream, mixed with 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 8 chicken thighs, sliced or 600 g chicken breast meat, diced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, ends trimmed and cut into 2.5-cm lengths
  • 1-cm knob galangal, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Garnish

  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 spring onion, chopped

Method

  1. In a pot, bring half the coconut cream to a boil with the water. Lower the heat to a simmer.
  2. Add the chicken, lemongrass, galangal and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Stir in the remaining coconut cream and turn up the heat. As soon as it begins to boil, add the whole bird’s eye chillies and kaffir lime leaves. Stir and remove from heat.
  4. Season with lemon juice and the remaining fish sauce.
  5. Dish out and garnish with chilli and spring onion. Serve hot with rice.

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