Tom Kha Gai

Thai hot and sour coconut milk soup can be made very quickly in a good wok and adds a depth of flavor as a stir fry. The classic version has only chicken in the aromatic soup with chilies and herbs, or perhaps mushrooms, but it is wonderful with a few other market veggies and can be made vegetarian with Bragg’s liquid aminos instead of fish sauce and substituting tofu or eggplant for chicken.


1 chicken breast, sliced thin, or 2 thighs, sliced thin
3 shallots, diced
2 inch piece of ginger, diced Thai style (see demo)
1 six inch piece of lemongrass, pulverized and diced
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 small onion, sliced
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (DO NOT SHAKE OR TURN UPSIDE DOWN! Substitute “lite” coconut milk, if desired)
1 or 2 seasonal sweet frying peppers, sliced
5 shitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced
2-5 Thai chilies, sliced very thin, (gauge your own heat index…)
2-4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 paste or roma (or dry farmed) tomatoes, halved and julienned
1 handful cilantro and thai basil


DO NOT SHAKE the coconut milk. Keeping it upright, open can gently to expose the coconut fat on top. Heat a wok to medium hot and add 2 Tb of the coconut fat from the top of the can with a spoon. (Use 1 teaspoon of oil if using “lite” coconut milk.) Add the shallot, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the onion and stir fry a minute or so, until softened and then add the coconut milk.

Bring to a simmer and then add the chicken, and simmer 3 minutes. Add hot and sweet peppers and mushrooms and cook until just softened.

Season with fish sauce and lime juice and garnish with the tomatoes, and freshly chopped cilantro and Thai basil. Serve with Jasmine rice.

YIELD: 8 four ounce servings

VARIATION: Great as a vegetarian dish with tofu, eggplant, zucchini or winter squash. Remember that Bragg’s liquid aminos or light soy sauce should be used in place of fish sauce.

SOURCE: Chef Jamie Smith

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