Friday, January 22, 2010

Tom Kha Gai

{Thai Chicken-Coconut Soup}

Forget your standard chicken noodle soup. With all this freezing rain I've been hankering for some really good *new* soup, so when my friend Nora forwarded me this recipe for tom kha gai I was thrilled to give it a shot. I doubled the recipe and upped the grated ginger, and DAMN, girlfren. It took under an hour from start to finish, and it was absolutely delicious. The zing of ginger and citrus combined with the smooth coconut milk and earthy shiitakes is an absolutely perfect ménage à trois of flavors. With all the chicken, spinach, mushrooms and noodles it's a full dinner all on its own, and makes awesome leftovers the next day. I'm surprised by how simple this is to make and how flexible the recipe is; once you get the basic flavors down you can add or subtract depending on your taste. Make it. You'll be a goddess.

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken-Coconut Soup)
From Self, February 2008, via Epicurious; for a printer-friendly version of this recipe click here.
You can find fish sauce and glass noodles in the international food section of most grocery stores.  

4 ounces cellophane noodles
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1–2 red Thai (or jalapeño) peppers, seeded and finely chopped (plus slices for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger (I used 3 tablespoons for extra zing)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon (or lime) juice
4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, divided
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each), cut into 2 1/2"-long by 1/4"-wide strips
1 cup light coconut milk (I used the whole can)
2 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (plus sprigs for garnish)

Place noodles in a bowl; add enough warm water to cover and let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain. Combine broth, pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lemon juice and 3 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer, add noodles and cook 3 minutes more. Using tongs, transfer noodles to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add mushrooms to broth; season with salt, if desired; simmer 3 minutes more. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer, stirring, until chicken is just cooked, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach right before you're ready to serve, for about 1 minute or until it begins to wilt. Add chopped cilantro and season with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Using tongs, divide noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of pepper.

Have a fantastic weekend all you marvelous, talented people. The sun just came out here.


  1. I know what you're up to: A swap, and apparently also soup.
    But you know, you have to give some serious thought to what you want on your mittens. Because if you say "tapir and cactus" or "corgi and one of those freaking sweet anteater-looking things that didn't knock down any dominos", you know you have to live with your choice forEVER. It's like a tattoo, but made of wool.

    P.S. ménage à trois of flavors sounds like something Julia Child would have said if only she had had a late-late night TV show of her very own. "My Life after 9 PM: Where the pots are hot and the casseroles let it all hang out."

  2. Mmmmm. I make something like this.

    It is *perfect* for wet foot days.
    Stay dry, my dear, you and your soup!

  3. See, I know we are souls sisters. This is one of my very favorite soups. I don't eat meat, so I make a tofu version, but I think of it as one of the ultimate comfort foods. Your version looks like perfection. xoxo

  4. Ummm... My favorite soup. We go to a particular Thai restaurant in town simply because theirs is the best.

  5. LILY.... this is by far my favorite soup and YAY YAY YAY to posting this recipe. I love this dish and can't wait to make it at home!!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, enjoying life as you usually do, trying yummy goodness and creating beautiful things. Sending you much love my friend!! xo

  6. Oh yum yum yum.
    I make variations on this theme all the time, but I haven't added any coconut milk lately. Thank you for reminding me of what was missing!

    Also? I feel precisely the same about you :)

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  8. I love that my first post on your blog is in reference to SOUP! The next time you are in LA, I'm taking you to the best restuarant for Tom Kha Gai. And it's right around the corner from Kate! I love it with Tofu instead of chicken, carrots, cabbage and broccoli! Hope you are staying warm!

  9. This is one of my favourite soups! Never tried making it myself before, am inspired now to give it a go. Thank you for visiting Capers and Olives, am so enjoying your blog and paintings! The desert pictures are incredible, love the skyscape with the rainbow. Noticed you studied Thangka painting, I did as well but only for 6 months while living in Nepal.

  10. Lily. My mouth is watering just reading this. I have a great affection for these kinds of soups. The ONLY thing for a really bad hangover if you ask me.

    Thanks for being so lovely about Mr. B. I did read your post about your wonderful horse last fall. I lost a cat 10 yrs ago - he did not undergo any treatment because he was that bad when we discovered it. But I'm very aware of over-treating. My last guy was so easy-going but by his last visit to be euthanized, he was snarling at the vet. It's not worth it. Anyway, kisses.

    Thanks for being in touch.

  11. Oh and Colin if you're checking back - where IS that restaurant? No fair holding out!

  12. I want this soup right now. Well, right after Celia's gin fizz thing.

  13. this looks amazing...i love tom kha gai!


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