Tom ka Gai – Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup
What you need is…..
2 lemon grass stalks
big piece of fresh ginger
2 litres chicken stock
6 spring onions, roughly chopped, roots (if clean) and all.
6-8 kaffir lime leaves
a healthy size bunch of coriander
2 red chillies
500 g skinless chicken thighs
2 400 ml cans coconut milk
Handful of Samphire, purple sprouting broccoli or tender stem broccoli.
A few thrusts of fish sauce
2-3 juicy limes
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
At the moment this is my favourite soup ever. It’s warming and nourishing. Life feels so much better after I have this soup.
You need 500 g skinless chicken thighs, 2 litres stock. I used the frozen stock I had made. (See Perfect Roast Chicken post.) This is where all that flavoursome home made stock makes this soup even better.
Really big piece of ginger. Smash it with a rolling pin to crush and to release the juices.
Then roughly chop it.
Smash the ends of the lemongrass. Roughly chop the spring onions too. Place all in a big pot.
Kaffir lime leaves can’t be flown in from outside the EU. I haven’t found out why yet. It’s a shame esp as, although we grow lime leaves in this country now, they aren’t intense a flavour. They need tropical heat to grow the best.
Also try Sri Thai on Sheperds’s Bush Road. (56 Shepherd’s Bush Road, London W6 020 7602 0621) Really lovely family who run this South East Asian supermarket. The husband told me how to cook beautiful fluffy rice perfectly and simply.
Some coriander stalks go in. Root would be great too.
Roughly chop the chillies seeds and all.
These chillies are semi dried. When I have spare chillies I pop them in a paper bag in the fridge and they dry perfectly.
So there it is, a big pot of goodness. It need’s to melt and simmer gently for about an hour or two just enough to get the most out of all those flavours.
Strain it through a fine sieve and return to heat and bring to a simmer.
Squeeze the juices from a juicey lime and add to the pot with the coconut milk.
Cut the chicken into strips and add to the pot and cook until tender, which will be about 10 minutes.
Add a spoonful of sugar to the pot.
Light muscovado sugar would be the best substitute for Palm Sugar that is normally used in S.E Asian cooking. Palm sugar is quite sharp and caramelly at the same time. I still have one from Sri Lanka 2 years ago, shaped like a fat diamond and wrapped in leaves. It’s so beautiful I don’t want to unravel it. Today I used molasses sugar as I had that at hand, but be careful this is a very strong and could be overpowering..
This process is all about tasting and getting the perfect sweet and sour balance. Add lime juice and sugar alternately and taste every time.
Towards the end of cooking I dropped in some roughly chopped tender stem broccoli, on top. Put the lid on and let it cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables and chicken is tender. It’s just occurred to me here that samphire would be perfect in this too.
More tasting, add some fish sauce now, more lime? maybe? A little salt, but be careful as the fish sauce is pretty potent and salty too. Freshly ground pepper adds another layer.
Roughly chop some coriander and stir into the pot.