Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thai Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Ka Gai)

Tom Ka Gai is easily my favorite soup in the world. Tom Ka Gai literally means chicken-galangal-soup. This is a creamy, warm, tingly soup full of flavors and aromas. It is an orgasm to the palate. A must try.

  • 1 big chicken breast (bone in, if you are making the chicken stock) 
  • 1 can coconut milk (398 ml)
  • 1 basket fresh mushrooms
  • 1 Chinese eggplant (optional)
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and cut into strips (optional)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 small ginger root peeled and sliced
  • 1 small galangal root peeled and sliced
  • 3 stems lemon grass halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablesspoons tamarind paste
  • 2 spicy chilies sliced (add more if you like spicer)
  • 1 spring basil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 cups chicken stock 
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish

For this soup I prefer to make my own chicken stock. So if you are using store-bought chicken stock omit this step.
Remove the meat and the skin from the chicken breast. Discard the skin and slice the meat into 2 inches slices, set aside. Keep the carcass.

In  large pot add 6 cups of water, the chicken bones, 3 bay leaves, scallions and peppercorn. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. Let cool and strain the stock to be used in the soup.

To prepare the lemongrass, slice and mince the lower portion and reserve the stalk to flavor the soup. Fold the kaffir lime leaf in half along the spine and tear. Slice the mushrooms and eggplant. Set aside.

In a large pot, add the chicken stock, ginger, galangal, chilies, lemongrass, fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime leaves, salt and sugar and let simmer covered for 20 minutes at low temperature so all the flavors blend in.

Add the chicken,the coconut milk (make sure your coconut milk does not contain Guar Gum in the ingredients, this is a sign of low quality) and basil, simmer until the chicken is cooked. 

Once the chicken is fully cooked , add the mushrooms, bell pepper and eggplant, cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Be careful not to overcook the eggplants as it get mushy.

Add the lime juice and season with more salt and sugar if needed and mix well.

Serve hot garnished with fresh cilantro.