Tom Kha Gai - Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup

I thought I would have a hard time finding some of the Asian ingredients in America, but the other night, Matt and I found an awesome Asian Seafood Market minutes from our apartment. It was really exciting walking down the aisles and seeing all of ingredients I had seen in the markets in Thailand.

Some common Thai ingredients are:
  • Kaffir lime leaves (fresh)
  • Thai ginger
  • Lemongrass
  • Chilies
  • Coconut milk
  • Palm sugar/coconut sugar
There are some major health benefits of coconut milk and I just wanted to point them out here:
  • Heart healthy- coconuts don't contain trans fatty acids that can clog arteries.
  • Protects the body- coconut milk has lauric acid, that has many germ-fighting, anti-fungal/anti-viral properties, and rids the body of viruses, bacteria and illness.
  • Full of antioxidants- coconuts will boost your immunity while rebuilding damaged cells in your body, this can also delay the aging process.
  • Immunity boosting- coconut milk has Vitamin C, E and B, which helps boost immunity systems and provides energy to the cells. 
In terms of flavor alone, I have to say first hand that kaffir lime leaves will transform any Thai dish. It transmits a strong lime flavor, in that lime juice and skin don't do. If you can't find fresh leaves, most Asian stores will have dried leaves. I prefer fresh, but that will work as well.

Palm sugar can be found in hard form, or in a pasty like form. I didn't feel like chopping up hardened sugar this time, so I bought pasty coconut sugar for the recipe. They taste pretty similar. Coconut sugar is so much healthier than using cane or brown sugar. With still adding sweet flavor, it's about half the calories per tablespoon. And instead of buying coconut sugar at Whole Foods or other markets, make sure to check out your local Asian market; the jar I found was about $1.50, and it should last me for a while.

The interesting thing about Thai food, is that they don't cook with a lot of meat, if you notice. They have a higher vegetable to meat ratio. While this is cost saving, it also helps omit calories from the meal, which is good considering they eat a lot of rice with every meal.

This recipe is adapted from the all day cooking class we took in Thailand. It was a great experience and I urge each and every one of you to take a cooking class when you travel abroad. It makes you think differently about the ingredients you use and how you use them.

  • 1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast sliced (this amount can change whether you like more or less chicken in your soup)
  • 2-3 chilies, sliced in half (same here, if you want more spice, add 3 chilies, less, add 1/2-1 like I did)
  • 3-4 Kaffir lime leaves shredded
  • Galangal "Thai ginger" sliced thinly (if you can't find Thai ginger, get regular)
  • 5 fresh lemongrass cut 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 onion, cut into quarters
  • optional: Oyster mushroom, shredded (or any other mushroom) I hate mushrooms, so i left it out
  • 1 tsp ground coriander or fresh leaves if you have
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
Ingredient tips:
  • To get more of the flavor from your lemongrass, make sure to smash/pound your pieces to release the flavor.
  • Fish sauce is a great for adding extra salt and flavoring. It also helps if you've made your dish too spicy. Just make sure to only add a little at a time, so you don't accidentally make your dish TOO salty.
Cooking Method:
  1. In a small pot, bring the coconut milk and water to a boil. Add ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, chilies, and boil for 7 minutes, stirring so the coconut milk will not separate. 
  2. Add chicken and simmer for 5 minutes, stir gently so the chicken cooks evenly. 
  3. Add onion and mushrooms and simmer for 8-10 more minutes.
  4. Season with fish sauce, sugar, salt, and lime juice and taste test. 
  5. Remove from heat and add coriander.
  6. Serve with Jasmine rice

1 comment

  1. This soups looks really good! Love that it is dairy free. I try to shy away from milk (although, I am a sucka for cheese) cause lactose and I don't get along. Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays!


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