Arguably one of the most flavorful soups you’ll ever taste. Bold flavors perfectly balanced – richness from the coconut milk, heat from the chilies, depth of flavor from the fish sauce, and acidity from the lime juice.
I adapted this version from a recipe I used at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts in Koh Samui. It is hands down the best Tom Kha Gai I’ve ever tasted.
2 cups coconut milk
½ cup water
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bias-sliced *
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves, stems removed and torn in half **
2 inches fresh galangal, thinly sliced ***
3 fresh red chilies, bias-sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 crushed coriander root or 2 full sprigs chopped
1 tablespoon chili paste, tom yum paste or Thai chili paste
1 cup fresh oyster, straw or button mushrooms, sliced or quartered ****
3 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ a chicken breast, cut into bite size slices
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup scallion, bias-sliced
¼ cup coriander stems and leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
6 small dried red chilies
- In a pot (or wok) heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, red chilies, shallots, coriander root, and chili paste. Boil until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Boil another minute
- Add the chicken, without stirring boil for 30 seconds. Stir and boil another 40 seconds.
- Add the fish sauce, scallion, and chopped coriander. Boil another 20 seconds
- Remove from heat. Add the lime juice and taste. If necessary add more fish sauce or a pinch of salt
- Garnish with dried red chilies and fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve immediately
*Bias-sliced: cut at an angle so that you end up with oval rather than round pieces
**If you can’t find fresh kaffir lime leaves you can use 3 dried leaves instead. Soak in room temperature water for 5 minutes before using
***You can substitute the fresh galangal with ¼ cup of dried. Soak in room temperature water for 5 minutes to reconstitute
**** It’s best not to use dark mushrooms in this soup, their favor is too rich and will overwhelm many of the other ingredients
You can use a white fish, shrimp, mussels, or squid instead of chicken if you’d like (the version in the photo). Or make it semi-vegetarian by adding tofu (remember it will still have fish sauce).