Tom Kha Gai

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

In­gre­di­ents

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)

Gar­nish

3 lime leaves, rib re­moved and thinly sliced 1 thinly sliced red chilli 1 hand­ful of chopped fresh co­rian­der Chilli oil (op­tional)

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