Tom Kha Gai
Thailand is one of the easiest and most pleasurable countries in South East Asia to travel with a young family. My kids were lucky enough to travel there quite often during the years we lived in Asia, and have grown up with wonderfully adventurous palates from a young age.
Tom Kha Gai is one of the two most well known soups to come out of Thailand, the other being Tom Yum Goong (Hot Prawn Soup). It is deliciously fragrant, aromatic, silky smooth and full of all our favourite Thai herbs: such as lemongrass, kaffir lime and coriander. The use of galangal is quite integral in this soup. It is from the ginger family but has a far more astringent and potent flavour. I struggled to buy this at the main supermarkets in Queenstown but the trusty Asian Mart on Shotover St has some in the freezer. You can substitute in ginger, it will just be missing some of the fragrance associated with this dish.
Thai food is all about the delicate balance between spicy, sweet, sour and salty and this soup certainly achieves this. This recipe will allow you to recreate a classic Thai dish one craves for, without having to go all the way to Thailand. It is awonderfully subtle way to introduce those beautiful aromatic fresh Thai flavours to the whole family. In the words of my 8-year-old Oscar and 9-year-old Charlie, ‘‘Mum, this is the best soup we have ever eaten ever in the whole world!’’ I hope you and your family enjoy it too.
500ml of good quality chicken stock 800ml coconut milk 6-8 slices of fresh galangal 6 whole lime leaves (scrunch in your hand before putting in the soup to extract more flavour) 2 stalks of lemon grass bruised 3-4 whole green chillis 500g skinless chicken breast sliced 4tbl lime juice 3tbl fish sauce 3-4 fresh crushed coriander roots (optional but adds delicious fresh flavour) 12 straw mushrooms (or just use brown or button and quarter them)
3 lime leaves, rib removed and thinly sliced 1 thinly sliced red chilli 1 handful of chopped fresh coriander Chilli oil (optional)