Ultimate Tom Kha Gai
My take on this epic Thai coconut soup
Living together with 10 housemates made me cook many many dishes in the past couple of years. But if there is one that’s clearly loved the most it must be this one (as you can see)! Take the effort to find lime leaves and lemongrass in an Asian supermarket (toko), because these are the absolute heros of this dish. Also this recipe forms a perfect basis to add whatever you have available. Every veggie loves to swim in this soup. Try something like green asparagus in these times of spring for example. Fill up your bowls with a bit of flavoured jasmin rice, top with a ladle of Tom Kha Gai, some garnish and then pay attention to the faces around the table (;
2 white onions
5 cloves of garlic
1 thumbsize peace of galangal (or just double the ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1 thumbsize peace of ginger
2 stalks of lemongrass
1 bunch of fresh coriander (or parsley)
600 ml coconut milk
600 ml vegetable stock
6 lime leaves
Salt and olive oil
Suggestions to add:
400 gr tofu
400 gr chestnut mushrooms
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of coconut/palm sugar (or something else sugary)
1 large pak choi
300 gr sugar snaps
250 gr bean sprouts
3 or 4 spring onions
80 gr rice per person (Jasmin for example)
3 or 4 star anise and a few fennel seeds (feel free to mix up the spices!)
Preheat a pot of boiling water for boiling the rice. Start by chopping up your white onions, garlic, chili’s, ginger (add the offcuts to the pan of boiling water for the flavoured rice), galangal and only the stalks of the fresh koriander (the leaves can be used for garnish). Heat up a large pot on medium heat with a decent amount of olive oil. Add the ingredients to the pot with a bit of salt and fry until slightly golden.
Now add the coconut milk and the vegetable stock. This is the moment for the heros of this dish: lime leaves and lemongrass. Give the lemongrass a good bang with the flat side of your knife to open it up for releasing its flavours, then cut in halve and add to the pan. Tear up the lime leaves in half for the same reason and add to the pan too. At this point you can add all sort of different veggies, for example the sugar snaps (except the leafy vegetables, like pak choi, which are nicer to add just before serving). Bring everything to a low simmer.
In the meantime, boil off your rice in the pot of salted boiling water and the ginger offcuts, start anise and fennel seeds.
Also preheat a frying pan or wok to high heat. Slice up the tofu and fry in some oil. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar. When the tofu is nice and golden, transfer into the soup. Repeat this proces with the mushrooms.
Time to bring everything together. When the rice is cooked, drain the remaining water, then place the lid back on and leave the rice to steam until serving.
Prepare the garnish by chopping up the koriander leaves and spring onions. Add the pak choi and half of the bean sprouts to the soup. Also add the lime juice, then check for seasoning (salt, lime juice, spice). As soon as you’re happy with the flavour, place the soup in the middle of your dinner table, with a nice bowl of rice, garnish, sit back and watch the smiles. Enjoy!
Tip: the soup freezes really well if you have leftovers.