Chicken Coconut Soup with Lemongrass
Also known as Tom Kha Gai, this is one of the most requested dishes in Thai restaurants. This recipe calls for what years ago was considered rather exotic ingredients such as Thai fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves. Thanks to well stocked supermarkets and gourmet shops you can find those ingredients and more, although a visit to an Asian neighborhood market in your city will yield an even grander selection of choices.
4 cups chicken stock
4 slices peeled fresh ginger
1 large lemongrass stalk, cut into 2 inch pieces and crushed (or 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest)
16 fresh kaffir lime leaves or the grated zest of 1 large lime
2 (14-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 to 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon red chili paste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit sized pieces
1/2 pound fresh white mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 small fresh green or red chiles, sliced crosswise, paper-thin
Fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
- In a large saucepan, combine the stock, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves or lime zest. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to low, add the coconut milk, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add the lime or lemon juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and chile paste. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and simmer until tender 4 to 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 1 minute.
- To serve ladle soup into warmed bowls. Float the chile slices and cilantro leaves on top.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.