Recipe: Coconut-Galangal Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Kai)
- 1 pound
boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 stalk
- 2 cups
sodium-free chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups
- 1 (2-inch) piece
galangal, thinly sliced
kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces and bruised
- 8 ounces
oyster or white mushrooms
- 1/4 cup
- 1/3 cup
freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 or 5
fresh bird’s eye chiles, bruised
- 1/2 cup
packed fresh cilantro leaves
Cut the chicken against the grain and on the diagonal (30- to 40-degree angle) into thin, bite-size pieces. If using oyster mushrooms, separate them into individual pieces. If using white mushrooms, halve the small ones and quarter the bigger ones.
Trim off and discard the leafy parts of the lemongrass stalk, remove the tough outer leaves of the bulb portion until the smooth, pale green core is exposed, and trim off the root end. Quarter the bulb portion crosswise and smash the pieces with a heavy object until they are bruised and split.
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately turn down to heat so the liquid is barely bubbling. Add the galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken, mushrooms, and fish sauce, stir, and increase the heat slightly so the liquid is simmering gently. Once the chicken is no longer pink, after about 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat.
Add the lime juice and chiles and stir. Taste and correct the seasoning as needed. The soup should be sour and salty with natural sweetness from the coconut milk. Sprinkle the cilantro on top just before serving. Thai cooks do not usually remove the chunky herbs from food when they serve it, as it is understood that they are not to be eaten. But you can fish out the lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves before serving, if you like.
Reprinted with permission from Simple Thai Food copyright 2014 by Leela Punyaratabandhu. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.