Creamy, savoury and so satisfying – tom kha gai is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand. Named for the galangal root (kha), it also features a creamy coconut-milk broth, mushrooms and savoury chunks of chicken breast. We’re providing you with the recipe so that you can make tom kha gai at home.
Tom Kha Gai Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)
- 400 grams of chicken breast (cut into chunks or strips)
- 200 grams of oyster mushrooms
- 6 cups of fresh coconut milk*
- 1 chunk of galangal root
- 4 tablespoons of lime juice
- 2 tomatoes (cut into wedges)
- 3 or 4 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 large white onion (peeled and cut into wedges)
- 6 to 8 kaffir lime leaves (torn)
- 8 – 10 Thai chilies (fewer for a less spicy dish)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more or less to taste)
- 1 small bunch of cilantro
* If you’re making this dish in a place where it’s difficult to find fresh coconut, you can use canned coconut milk, though this is likely to be thicker. If desired, you can compensate by diluting the milk with up to equal amounts of water to create a better consistency.
How to Make Tom Kha Gai
Begin by preparing the galangal root. To do this, remove the stems and thinly slice the root. Galangal is relatively tough, so slicing can be a challenge. Next up is the lemongrass. Cut off the very bottom and remove the outer skins, slicing what remains with a diagonal cut to release the aromatic flavour of this herb.
Once you have completed the prep work, it’s time to begin heating up the coconut milk. Start by heating half the total amount of coconut milk over medium heat and adding the galangal and lemongrass. Add the chicken just before the coconut mixture comes to a boil.
Once the chicken has been added to the mixture, pour in the remainder of the coconut milk and turn the heat down to medium low. Make a point of not scalding the coconut milk. Likewise, as you stir the mixture, it’s important to only stir in one direction. Failing to do so could cause the coconut milk to curdle and separate.
Now it’s time to add the chilies, which you can crush with the edge of a chef’s knife and then slice. Removing the seeds will cut down on how spicy the soup is, so that’s an option depending on your preferences. You can also now add the mushrooms and onions.
As the mixture is about to come to a boil, add the tomatoes and turn down the heat if necessary. You can also add the kaffir lime leaves and salt at this point. Stir the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes and wait for the chicken to be fully cooked. As soon as it is, turn off the heat, so as not to overcook the coconut milk.
Now it’s time for the finishing touches. Add the lime juice little by little, tasting the broth intermittently until you’re satisfied with the level of sourness. You’ll also want to salt the mixture to taste. Then your tom kha gai is ready to serve alongside a scoop of fragrant jasmine rice!