My husband, brother, sis-in-law and I spent two months in Southeast Asia last summer, and spent a week of that in Phuket, Thailand. We tried all sorts of delicious foods, including Thai Panang Curry and Coconut Sticky Rice with Fresh Mango. But, one of my favorite dishes there was this Spicy Thai Coconut Soup, traditionally known as Tom Kha Gai.
We first discovered it on a rainy, and I mean rainy day in Phuket. We were driving along the road in our bumpy little rental car when all of a sudden it started to downpour the way it only can in Southeast Asia…we were starving, so we found a little deserted restaurant on the side of the road and dashed under its tin roof through the mud and rain. We were a little chilly (imagine that in Thailand) 🙂 and so we thought it appropriate to order soup. And that’s how our addiction began.
This Spicy Thai Coconut Soup is just what its name promises. Spicy (like every dish in Thailand is), coconutty, and full of distinctive Thai flavors that send your tastebuds to dreamland. Truly, this soup is incredible! Yes, you’ll have to visit your local Asian market to get a few of the specialized ingredients like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, but let me promise you, the hunt will be worth it! If you want true Thai coconut soup, you can’t skimp on the ingredients. Pack your suitcase and take a field trip to the Asian market. It’ll be like a little vacation! Even better if you go when it’s pouring rain outside…you’ll get to re-live our little adventure in Thailand.
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 kaffir lime leaves (can be replaced with zest of lime)
- 1 stalk sliced lemon grass
- 1/4 cup sliced galangal (can replace with ginger if necessary)
- 2 small tomatoes
- 2 bunches of green onion
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3/4 cup bunapi or oyster mushrooms
- 1-3 red chilies (adjust to desired level of heat).
- 1 lbs. chicken or shrimp
- 2 tsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2-3 heaping Tbsp. chopped cilantro
- Cooked white rice (optional)
- Rip the kaffir lime leaves in half.
- Chop the lemon grass stalk into 1/4-inch pieces.
- Slice the galangal and cut into quarters. (Should be medium-sized chunks).
- Roughly chop the tomatoes, yellow onion, mushrooms and green onions.
- Dice the red chilies (using a rubber glove or small ziploc bag on your hand).
- If using chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces. If using shrimp, remove their tails.
- In a large saucepan, add coconut milk, chicken broth, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and galangal and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling and you start to smell the herbs, add the tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, red chilies and chicken or shrimp. Reduce the heat slightly and allow to simmer until chicken or shrimp is cooked through and no longer pink. *If using shrimp, only cook for a couple of minutes, or it will be tough.
- When the chicken or shrimp is cooked, add the fish sauce and sugar.
- Squeeze lemon juice in the soup and top with chopped cilantro.
- Serve hot with cooked white rice on the side.