Khwanjai’s Coconut Chicken Soup
Tom Kaa Gai
Thai soups are famous for their variety and aromatic flavours, although this (Spicy, Sour and Sweet) Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kaa Gai) is probably not as famous as Tom Yum Gung. More emphasis is given to the sweet, provided by coconut milk and palm sugar, but don’t get me wrong here, this Traditional Soup Recipe is full of balanced and wonderfully contrasting flavours about to explode onto your taste buds just as soon as you make it
This is one they don’t teach in Thai cooking classes much, they tend to stick to simpler dishes, but don’t let that put you off, below are full and detailed instructions, nothing is left out plus a video to help, it’s all in the preparation.
Our Thai Food Blog-Tom Kaa Gai has lots of useful tips about how to choose the best ingredients.
How to Make Coconut Chicken Soup
2 Large Chicken Legs
3 Lemon grass
4 Large Cloves Garlic
5 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5-6 Galangal Slices
5 Thai Red Chillies (Pik ki nu)
3-4 Shallots (1/3 cup when chopped)
2 Spring Onions (scallions)
4 Coriander sprigs (including 2 roots)
2 tbs Fish Sauce
2 tbs Tamarind Puree
1/2 tbs Chicken stock powder or 1 cube
1 tbs Palm Sugar or Demerara 2nd choice
1/2 tbs Salt
750ml Coconut Milk
2 Cups water
Chop the chicken into large bite size pieces, leaving the bones and skin improves the flavour
Cut lemon grass at an angle, see video tutorial.
Peel garlic cloves and cut each in half
Tear Kaffir lime leaves from stems and central vein
Slice Galangal, penny thickness or less. If it’s a tender young Galangal you can leave the skin on.
(See the difference in our Thai Food Wiki)
Cut Thai chillies at an angle lengthwise, the more you cut the more spicy the soup will become, we cut 3 out of 5 in the video, why? See the video
Peel shallots and cut into same size pieces a s the garlic
Chop spring onions into small logs about 1″ long
Tear the coriander and if you have roots cut in half lengthways, you can happily eat them but mostly they add to the stock flavour, if no roots add all the stems at least
Cut tomatoes into quarters and half again
How to Cook:
Bring water to boil over high heat in a medium pan, before adding 2/3rds of your coconut milk, bring back to boil
Add the Lemon grass, Galangal and Kaffir lime leaves
Bring to the boil for about 2 minutes, and then add everything else except coriander, spring onions and Tamarind puree
Wait until it boils again before stirring and boil for 5 minutes, allow lid to vent or it could well froth over the top
After 5 minutes, simmer (no lid) until the chicken is cooked through, 5 – 10 minutes or so
Now is the time to taste test and adjust flavour to your liking with fish sauce or sugar etc
When happy with the taste, add tamarind puree, coriander and spring onions, mix in thoroughly & remove from heat. That’s it folks! Done!
Serve into a large bowl. Eat with jasmine rice (traditional). A great recipe to compliment this lovely Tom Kaa Gai recipe is, (as Khwanjai suggests), our Sweet and Sour Stir Fried Pork or our Egg Fried Rice both of which have non spicy, slightly savoury flavours. If you fancy a non-spicy soup, you should try Khwanjai’s warming (meal in a bowl) Thai Chicken Soup.
Khwanjai’s Top Tips:
Longer video this one, just over 9 minutes, because we wanted to show you the finer points of this wonderful soup recipe with some really good close-ups.
I have eaten this more times than I care to remember when it was over spiced or the subtler flavour just missing because of poor preparation. Needless to say Khwanjai didn’t cook on those occasions. Enjoy!
When cutting the lemon grass, cut at an angle and rotate 1/4 turn for each cut this allows the lemon grass to open during cooking, producing more flavour and a softer texture
The more chillies you slice up, the spicier it will be, you can always cut chillies up later to pep up your individual portion
We really recommend you print out the recipe first, as there are lots of ingredients, the ingredients listed in the recipe are the actual amounts Khwanjai used “in total”, you’ll see what I mean by that in the video.
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