|Thai coconut chicken soup (tom kha gai)|
It is unbelievably simple to make, particularly if you actually keep it simple and don't try to overcomplicate things. You often see this dish on Thai restaurant menus as a soup, but this is something of a misnomer, as it is really a soupy stew that is served with rice. I like to cram rice into a small bowl and plate it up in a large soup bowl, then pour over the soup. Heavenly comfort food in a soup bowl.
Having said that I see it on menus a lot, I don't often order it as to my mind it tastes too sweet and gloopy, not at all like the tom kha gai I had in Thailand. This is definitely a case where homemade is best.
I am using chicken breasts in this recipe. Of course you can use chicken on the bone and you'll most likely have a deeper-coloured and -flavoured stew. The danger of using chicken breasts or any meat off the bone is that it is overcooked. This is why I often make this with leftover roast chicken, just adding the cooked meat towards the end of cooking to warm the meat through.
A word of warning if you are using coconut milk - do not overheat it, as it may split. I've heard that you should stir the milk continuously, in the same direction. I do this and it seems to work, but this could have been just luck!
Skill level: Easy
400g chicken breasts, cut into chunks
250ml chicken stock
400ml coconut milk (1 tin)
2-3cm galangal (or ginger), sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
3 kaffir lime leaves
150g shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
2-3 Birdseye chillies, finely sliced
salt, to taste
a small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
steamed rice, to serve
- Combine the stock, galangal and lemongrass in a medium saucepan. Gently bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Discard the galangal and lemongrass.
- Add the coconut milk and increase heat to medium. Add chicken, mushrooms and Kaffir Lime leaves. Simmer until the chicken has cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and red chillies. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. There needs to be a balance of sour and salty.
- Serve over a generous portion of steamed rice, with a sprinkling of chopped coriander.