This Tom Kha Gai soup may not be 100% authentic, but I’d take this over take out any day! It’s really easy and is a little limey, so creamy of the coconut milk, has a nice back heat from the cayenne, and is full of tender chicken!
Apparently it’s Ethnic Week over here at Show Me the Yummy! I started out by making salsa verde and salsa verde enchiladas and I’ll be ending it with my all time favorite soup: Tom Kha Gai or Coconut Chicken Soup!
Let me tell you a little story. Before I met Trevor, I was a horribly picky eater. When we first started dating, I pretended to like all sorts of food, so I could impress him with my super adventurous palate. Adventurous as in eating mushrooms and seafood and trying different types of beer. I’m wild! I know.
As we went on more dates, he’d take me to…
Indian restaurants. Hated it.
Thai food. Gross!
Vietnamese. Don’t even get me started.
Now? Of course, I’ve learned to love pretty much anything! Except, melon, but Trevor’s on board with that one 🙂
But let’s rewind back to the Thai food, because this Tom Kha Gai soup is Thai and it’s ridiculous. In the best way possible 🙂
Like I said, I did NOT like Thai food. Trevor would always order pad thai, and while it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, I could take it or leave it. Then, one day, Trevor and I went out to lunch during the work week. It was so cute. 🙂
He used to work near the International District in Seattle, so there were tons of really cool ethnic restaurants within walking distance. Trevor told me he had tried this great Thai place recently and wanted to try it out again.
I reluctantly agreed, but ohhhhhh my gosh I’m so glad I did.
We sat down and Trevor was going to order the chicken pad thai. I was browsing the menu and nothing was sounding good, so I asked the waitress for her recommendation. She suggested this coconut chicken soup called Tom Kha Gai.
A few minutes go by, and out comes this gigantic bowl of steamy, creamy soup. I took one hesitant sip and was immediately hooked. I ate the entire bowl, and then proceeded to get Thai food three more times that week.
Now, I crave Tom Kha Gai on the daily, but take out gets expensive, so I figured I should probably try to make it at home for myself. I thought it was going to be really complicated, especially since ethnic food is not my forte in the kitchen.
I was incredibly wrong. This soup is incredibly simple to put together.
Cut chicken breasts into chunks. I kept mine larger than what you’d typically see in this soup, but I wanted to keep the chicken nice and tender. You can break it up in the soup later if you want.
Now, heat a pan over medium heat. Add in oil and chicken and sauté for to 2 to 3 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make sure to season with salt. After the 2 – 3 minutes, the chicken won’t be cooked through, but it’ll continue to cook in the soup later on. You just want the outsides to be white. Set this aside.
In a medium sized sauce pot, bring canned coconut milk and chicken broth to a light simmer over medium – medium high heat. Whisk to break up the milk. Once simmering, add in sliced mushrooms, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne powder and lemon grass (see my notes below on how to work with lemon grass). Simmer until the chicken is done and the mushrooms are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat lower or higher to keep the Tom Kha Gai at a simmer.
After the chicken is cooked and the mushrooms are tender, give it a taste and season with salt and more cayenne if you’d like. Serve it up in bowls and sprinkle with green onion and fresh cilantro and eat steaming hot. I especially love serving this in a bowl over steamed brown rice to bulk it up a bit.
A quick side note: whatever you do, DO NOT SMELL THE FISH SAUCE. Remember on Monday when I told you not the taste the raw tomatillo and then you did anyway? Well this time. I’m extra serious. Fish sauce is putrid. I read this somewhere how smelly fish sauce was, I mean why wouldn’t it be, but being the curious dummy I am, I smelled it and completely regret it. Ha! So please, do me a favor, and learn from my mistake? 😉 While fish sauce smells horrible, after it’s had a chance to simmer with all the other ingredients, it really adds a great, ethnic flavor!
This Tom Kha Gai soup may not be completely authentic (this recipe uses ginger instead of the traditional galangal, but really…who has that), but I’d take this over take out any day! It’s really easy to put together and it’s a whole heckofalot cheaper than paying someone else to make it for you! This soup is a little limey, so creamy from the coconut milk, has a nice back heat from the cayenne, and is full of tender chicken! Make this even better by serving it with steamed brown rice and you’ve got yourself an impressive, ethnic meal!
Do you like ethnic foods? Show me the yummy!
BTW – Happy *almost* Valentine’s Day! If you’re planning on eating at home all day tomorrow, be sure to check out my post of Best Valentine’s Day Recipes. I’ve got you covered from breakfast all the way to after dinner drinks!
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts*
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (4 oz) white mushrooms sliced
- 1 (1 inch) piece ginger peeled and halved
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass tough outer layers removed, and cut into 4 pieces
- thinly sliced green onion for garnish
- chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Cut chicken into chunks. Heat pan over medium heat. Add in oil and chicken and sauté for to 2 to 3 minutes. Salt slightly. The chicken won’t be cooked through, it’ll continue to cook in the soup later on.
- In a pot, bring coconut milk and chicken broth to a barely simmer over medium heat. Whisk to break up milk.
- Add in the chicken, mushrooms, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne powder and lemon grass. Simmer until the chicken is done and the mushrooms are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to lower heat.
- Sprinkle with green onion and fresh cilantro and serve steaming hot. I also love serving this over steamed brown rice!
*Lemongrass: First, peel the outer layers (they look like corn husks). Then with the back of your knife, hit the lemongrass. You'll make indents all along the stalk. Then, cut into quarters.
* You won't eat the ginger/lemongrass, but whenever I get this in restaurants, they always leave the pieces in the soup!