Monday, January 28, 2013

tom kha gai

I hesitated to post this recipe, for a couple of reasons:

1)  It's not truly tom kha gai, which means chicken galangal soup in Thai.  I can't get galangal without a special trip to the Asian market, so I used ginger.  It should really be tom khing gai (chicken ginger soup).

2)  It's a pretty good substitute for a recipe that almost every Thai restaurant will have.  Their version will probably be better.  But if you're far from ethnic cuisine, or don't feel like traveling, or want to control the ingredients of your recipe, then it will work well for you.  (Although I have to say, I had some last week at a Thai restaurant we love, and was very disappointed.  My recipe was better!)

This soup is very comforting, filling, and I love it when I'm sick.  The strong flavors cut through congestion, when you can't taste much else.  It has lots of power players for healing, as well:  ginger, broth, coconut, citrus.  These are all medicinal foods, with antibacterial and antiviral properties, and nutrients you need to feel better.

An authentic recipe would use galangal root instead of ginger, and kaffir lime leaves instead of lime juice and zest.  These are not all that hard to find in Nashville, but I'm lazy and don't like shopping outside of my neighborhood.  If you do use these authentic ingredients, be sure to use the fresh (not dried) varieties.

You can also leave out the meat and use straw mushrooms and vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

Tom Kah Gai
1 T coconut oil
1 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
1 small chicken breast, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 C chicken broth
1 C coconut milk
2 T fish sauce
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime

Melt coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add ginger and fry until fragrant, stirring frequently (about 1 minute).  Add chicken.  Cook and stir until cooked through (about 5 minutes).  Add broth, coconut milk, and fish sauce.  Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat, simmering for about 20 minutes.  Add lime zest and juice just before serving.  Serves 2.

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