Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tom Kha Gai (ต้ม ข่า ไก่)

If it seems like I am on a Thai-food binge, it's because I am!  After tasting real Thai cuisine, I am absolutely hooked! (And to think I already like the "localized version" Thai food.)  Time to recreate a popular Thai dish in my kitchen.

The Chicken and Galangal in Coconut Milk Soup is by far my most liked dish.  It's the easiest one for me to make too, considering I have galangal (havested mid-last year and frozen/dried), lemongrass and kaffir lime in the food garden!  Then, just last Sunday, I found lime in the weekend market.  Together with the fish sauce (น้ำปลา) I brought back from Thailand, my ingredients line up was virtually complete.

And given its popularity, the web is full of recipes.  In my case, however, I followed the recipe in this book (which I bought at the airport on our way back).  The book is not a new publication (it was first published in 2003) and certainly not the latest by the author but it has been re-published almost every year!  And flipping through its pages, I found it more suited to a novice to Thai food (like I am) considering it has a section on basic Thai ingredients and a general introduction to various Thai sauces and pastes, as well as "step-by-step" photographs.  (And notice the bookmark - Thai souvenir from MBK!)

While there are many recipes on the internet, quite a number of them indicate ginger as an ingredient rather than galangal.  I don't believe that ginger should be substituted, especially since Asian markets already have galangal paste, dried galangal, etc.  Besides, it cannot be Chicken Galangal (ข่า or Kha) Soup without galangal!

In any case, here is a recipe quite similar to the one in the book.  The slight differences - I used coconut cream (about 400 ml), chicken stock (made from the breast bones, about 500 to 600 ml) and instead of straw mushrooms, I used about 250 grams oyster mushrooms.  I also added a generous teaspoon of coco-sugar and adjusted the fish sauce according to personal taste.

My verdict?  While it tastes great immediately after it is cooked, I discovered that it was better the next day!

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