How to cook: Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

How to cook: Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

A chicken soup with coconut cream that is known alternatively as tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai. The recipes vary but they all for the same Thai chicken soup with coconut cream, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. I tried it at a Thai restaurant last weekend, bought a Thai cookbook and made the soup last night with a few modifications of the cookbook recipe.

Thai food is wonderful, if you haven”?t tried it, and I am really, really smitten. The same cooking techniques as most of Southeast Asia but the dishes have a more piquant flavor from aromatics like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves, all of which you will find in most Thai dishes.

This recipe makes enough soup for 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients :

* 8 to 10 boneless chicken thighs, about 800 grams
* 1 tsp. of salt
* 2 heaping tsps. of crushed galangal
* 3 stalks of lemongrass
* kaffir lime leaves (they come in pairs; I used three pairs)
* 3 finger chilis (I used the picante variety)
* 8 to 10 c. of chicken broth, preferably home made
* fish sauce, to taste
* juice of one lime (you can substitute lemon — it’s not the same but lime is not easy to find)
* 2 c. of coconut cream (see entry on how to extract coconut cream)
* 2 to 3 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil

Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

Measure the crushed galangal. Take two heaping teaspoonfuls of crushed galangal. I used bottled but if you can get fresh galangal, that would be great. If you can”?t get fresh nor bottled, substitute ginger. It won”?t taste the same though.

Thinly slice the white and light green portions of the lemongrass.

Slice the chilis into thin rings. If you want to reduce the spiciness, slit the chilis open and scrape off the seeds before slicing. Otherwise, simply cut off the tops and slice.

Cut the chicken thigh meat into thin strips. Season with a teaspoonful of salt and half of the crushed galangal. Mix well.

Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Add the seasoned chicken strips and cook, stirring, over high heat just until the chicken strips start to change color.

Tear the kaffir lime leaves and add to the pot together with the sliced lemongrass and the remaining crushed galangal. Stir well.

Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

Pour in the chicken broth. Throw in the sliced chilis to the pot. Season with fish sauce. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Chicken and coconut cream soup (tom kha gai, gai dom kha or tom khaa kai)

Turn up the heat. Pour in the coconut cream. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat. Pour in the lime (or lemon) juice and add more patis if necessary.

Updated on July 10, 2009

  • mareza

    three years ago we were in Thailand for two
    weeks and had the chance to join cooking class
    and of course eat thai food,the best. We got the chance to come back this Dec for an Asian tour
    including Manila,Malaysia,Singapore,japan and of course Thailand.I will make sure to get more
    cooking class and cook books. food is always
    the best part of the trip. thai food here in our
    place is americanize but i really don’t have time to cook, but i enjoy reading my cook books.

    • Rey M. S.

      is it just OK if the kaffir lime leaf is omitted?

      • Maruh Bordage

        hmmm.. look so yummy! i will definitely try this one for tonight i actually have fresh galangal in our fridge but my only prob i only have dried kaffrir leaves in my kitchen
        thanks for the recipes! bon appetit!!

        • Al

          Again, step by step pictures FTW!! :)

          thanks for sharing this!

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    I don’t know how much flavor will be lost, Rey.

  • mella

    i discovered thai food a few months ago. i didn’t like it at first because there’s just to much chili on it, nakakapasong anghang talaga! I always forget to tell the waiter to ask the cook not to put any chili on my food. But now i always make it a point to remind the waiter, im now loving thai food specially manggo salad, minced chicken with basil.

  • http://solraya.blogspot.com solraya

    The step by step with photos is greatly helpful :)

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    Mella, that’s the beauty of home-cooking. Even the spiciness can be adjusted. :)

    Solraya, I have a new camera accessory that makes the step-by-step photos easier to take. No more tripod. Flash diffuser na lang hehehe

  • http://foodtrip.blogspot.com shella

    hi connie, where do you get your kaffir lime? thanks.

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie