If anyone is looking for someone to eat their way around Thailand- I’m your girl. It’s by far my favourite cuisine and it would be an absolute dream to go island hopping, filling up on local food as we go.
I’ve been wanting to test out my own Tom Kha Gai for a while and today I finally gathered the final few ingredients so that I could share it with you. I know thai recipe names throw a lot of people, but it’s easily understood if you break it down:
Tom– Soup. This is your coconutty, aromatic, hot, sweet, sour, spicy broth.
Kha– Galangal or ‘thai ginger’, one of the main flavours of the broth. You could sub for ginger root but it really isn’t the same. Galangal gives this dish a real depth of flavour that you just won’t get from ginger. Sometimes up in the Lakes it’s like living in Narnia when trying to get hold of special ingredients but even Tesco stock sliced dried galangal.
Gai– Chicken. Oh beautifully soft poached chicken. You’ll almost always find prawns in your tom kha gai too and although they don’t make it in to the name, the sweet seafood has a vital part to play in building deep, savoury flavours. In this case I’ll be using locally netted crayfish, kindly given to us by a family friend.
As I write, it’s lashing down with heavy thunderous rain but for the little while I spent eating my soup, I was in Thailand. I’ll get there one day…
To serve 4 you’ll need:400ml coconut milk 400ml chicken stock 1 inch of galangal, sliced thinly (or 6 dried slices) 1 stalk lemongrass, cut in ha lf and bruised 3 kaffir lime leaves (at a push 2 tsp of lime juice) 2 chillis, sliced thinly 1tbsp thai fish sauce 1 chicken breast, cut thinly against the grain a handful of prawns or crayfish tails 2tsp Chiu chow chilli oil or Num-prik-pow a handful chopped coriander
Begin by making your broth. In a large pan add the coconut milk, stock, galangal, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime leaves and chillies. Mix and bring to just below a simmer for 5mins.
This is the most important part of the recipe. Inhale the beautiful aromas filling your kitchen! It’s all about getting the balance of flavours right. You might need to add a little more galangal, perhaps you’d like more chilli – taste and add until it’s right for you. Don’t get cocky with the fish sauce though, that stuff is potent!
When you’re ready to poach your chicken,make sure the temperature of the broth is right. You don’t want this to boil, or even simmer. You should be able to put your finger in it without being scalded, it should just be “ouch” hot.
Lower your meat in to the broth and keep an eye over it, as soon as the chicken and prawns are opaque, it’s done. Your meat should be tender, succulent and full of the broth’s flavour. Turn the pan off and scoop in to bowls.
Garnish with chopped coriander and extra chilli oil if you like things hot.This soup will freeze or you can keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for 4 days. Perhaps this is an idea for work lunches?