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Tom Kha Gai

(recipe, Gary Knopke)

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One of my favorite items on any Thai menu, this is a chicken and coconut milk soup, flavored with galangal and lemon grass. I usually eat this as a main dish, over rice, but it can certainly be served as an appetizer.


  1. 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  2. 2 0.5 cups coconut milk
  3. 1 cup coconut cream
  4. 2 cups chicken stock
  5. 2 cups oyster mushrooms, sliced
  6. ½ cup galangal, sliced
  7. 5 shallots, crushed
  8. 1 stalk lemon grass, sliced
  9. 5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
  10. ¼ cup fresh Thai basil, torn into pieces (save a few for garnish)
  11. 10 dried chillies, crushed
  12. 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  13. 2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  14. ½ tsp. salt


  1. In a sauce pan, over medium high heat, bring the coconut milk and chicken stock to a boil. Turn down the heat to a fast simmer, and make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  2. Add the galangal, lemon grass, shallots, chilies, and lime leaves – 5 minutes.
  3. Salt the chicken, add it to the mix, and simmer until the chicken is cooked – 5 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms – 2 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut cream, and, when the soup returns to a boil, turn off the heat, add the basil, fish sauce and lime juice.
  6. The galangal and lemongrass can be removed, as they are usually too fibrous to eat.
  7. Garnish with a few fresh whole Thai basil leaves