My editor and partner at Kaplifestyle, Stephanie, comes on. Take it away, Steph.
A few weeks ago, Gabe posted about the benefits of galangal, a rhizome I used in my Thai soup. Several requests came in for the recipe. The soup is my version of Tom Kha Gai (chicken galangal soup).
As we’ve spoken about before, all my soups begin with a stock. I usually start out with a selection of chicken parts – whole is good, but thighs will also work. I use a cleaver to hack them into rough chunks to better extract the flavours from the bones. I roast them off first so that I don’t have to skim the stock (if you want to skip roasting, put the chicken into a pot, bring it up to a boil, then dump out the liquid and rinse the chicken in cold water).
To the stock liquid, I add garlic (smashed), galangal, Thai bird chiles, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass and let it simmer for about an hour and a half. More is even better.
After the stock is flavourful and the water level has reduced down some (there should be a thicker texture to the liquid, now that the collagen and other proteins have leeched from the bones), I strain it and return to the stove. Coconut milk and palm sugar are stirred into the stock. I add in fish sauce, diced chicken and straw mushrooms, simmering so that the chicken poaches but doesn’t become tough.
Right before serving, the soup is finished with lime juice (add this at the end, after you take it off the heat, because lime juice rapidly loses its flavour), cilantro, and diced chilies to taste.
Ideally, the soup comes out with a balance of saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and spiciness, and the intersection of those four flavours are the hallmark of Thai food. Whenever I’m preparing the soup, it requires a lot of tasting to ensure that nothing is overpowering the other flavours. Use the recipe below as a general guideline, not a series of hard and fast rules.
- 1 chicken or approximately 8 chicken thighs, roughly chopped with a cleaver
- 1 4 inch piece of galangal, roughly sliced and pounded with flat of chef’s knife
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2-4 Thai bird chiles
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 stalk lemongrass, pounded with flat of chef’s knife
Roast chicken (see above note) at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, add to stock pot with juices from roasting sheet. Cover with water. Add additional ingredients, bring to boil, and reduce immediately to bare simmer. Allow to simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
- Stock from above, strained
- 2 cans straw mushrooms
- ¾ lb chicken, diced into bite size pieces
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 3 tbsp lime juice
Combine the coconut milk, palm sugar, and stock. Bring to boil and reduce down to a simmer. Add chicken and mushrooms, simmering until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Stir to combine.
Serve with cilantro, additional lime wedges, and diced Thai bird chiles at the table.