A chicken soup with coconut cream that is known alternatively as tom kha gai, gai dom kha, or tom khaa kai. The recipes vary but they all for the same Thai chicken soup with coconut cream, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. I tried it at a Thai restaurant last weekend, bought a Thai cookbook, and made the soup last night with a few modifications to the cookbook recipe.
Thai food is wonderful, if you haven’t tried it, and I am smitten. The same cooking techniques as most of Southeast Asia but the dishes have a more piquant flavor from aromatics like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, all of which you will find in most Thai dishes. Measure the crushed galangal. Take two heaping teaspoonfuls of crushed galangal. I used bottled but if you can get fresh galangal, that would be great. If you can’t get fresh or bottled, substitute ginger. It won’t taste the same though.
Thinly slice the white and light green portions of the lemongrass. Slice the chilis into thin rings. If you want to reduce the spiciness, slit the chilis open and scrape off the seeds before slicing. Otherwise, simply cut off the tops and slice. Cut the chicken thigh meat into thin strips. Season with a teaspoonful of salt and half of the crushed galangal. Mix well.
Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Add the seasoned chicken strips and cook, stirring, over high heat just until the chicken strips start to change color. Tear the kaffir lime leaves and add to the pot together with the sliced lemongrass and the remaining crushed galangal. Stir well.
Pour in the chicken broth. Turn up the heat. Pour in the coconut cream. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat. Pour in the lime (or lemon) juice and add more patis if necessary. Throw in the sliced chilis to the pot. Season with fish sauce. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.