Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tom Kha Gai

I was sick this past week. My go-to comfort-food has always been matzah ball soup. If I really, really want it, I'll have it, but I wanted to find a low-carb alternative that still has magical healing powers. Enter tom kha gai, an aromatic Thai soup with a coconut broth. Years ago I discovered this recipe in the pages of Fine Cooking magazine and loved it. However, I would make a few changes. First, there are lots of aromatics in the broth (kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass chunks, slices of galangal or ginger) which are not intended to be eaten. My husband found this to be very annoying. However, I like leaving them in the broth so that the flavors can continue to permeate as it sits. So in the future, if this bothers you, I recommend tying up the aromatics in a piece of cheesecloth. Additionally, this soup just uses chicken and mushrooms, but you can certainly add more vegetables. Bamboo shoots, broccoli florets, bok choy, baby corn, sliced carrots, and/or snow peas would all be welcome additions. Finally, I used lite coconut milk instead of full-fat, and I do not think that it negatively affected the final product at all. Many of the ingredients are rather esoteric, though you can find them in any Asian market. However, if you do not have access to these items I suggest some alternatives within the recipe.

My mise-en-place: galangal slices, Thai bird chiles, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass; small cup containing fish sauce, scallions, lime juice, and more lime leaves; plate with minced cilantro.

TOM KHA GAI
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a light meal
Adapted from Fine Cooking

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass (or strips of zest from one lemon)
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce, preferably Three Crabs brand (or soy sauce)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 fresh or frozen wild lime leaves, torn or cut into quarters (or strips of zest from one lime)
  • 10 to 12 thin slices galangal, fresh, frozen, or dried (or 10 to 12 thin slices fresh unpeeled ginger)
  • 8 to 10 fresh hot red and green Thai chiles, stemmed and lightly pressed with the side of a knife (or 3 or 4 serranos, thinly sliced) for garnish (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 boneless chicken breast half (about 6 ounces), cut into bite-size chunks or sliced across the grain into strips
  • 4 oz mushrooms (I used criminis, you can use any kind), sliced
  • Can of unsweetened lite coconut milk
  • Can of low-sodium chicken broth
  • Optional: more veggies such as bamboo shoots, broccoli florets, bok choy, baby corn, sliced carrots, and/or snow peas
DIRECTIONS
  1. Trim away and discard the root end and the top 3 inches of each stalk of lemongrass, along with any brittle leaves. Pound each stalk lightly with the side of a knife or an unopened can. Cut each stalk crosswise into 2-inch lengths and set aside.
  2. Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, scallions, and half of the wild lime leaves. Set aside.
  3. Tie up the lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal slices in a piece of cheesecloth.
  4. In a medium saucepan, commbine the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add the cheesecloth bag containing the galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Add the chicken, mushrooms, and optional veggies. Return to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors and cook the chicken. Note: you can make the soup up to this step in advance. I find that the longer it sits, the better it tastes, because the aromatics permeate the soup more. I usually cover the pot off-heat at this point and let it sit for a little while.
  5. Divide the fish sauce mixture among your serving bowls. Ladle the hot soup over it and stir well. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve hot. Pass around the chiles for those who want them. I also serve with sriracha sauce at the table.
NUTRITION INFO (based on 4 servings): 146 calories, 8g fat, 4g carbs, 0.5g fiber (3.5 net carbs), 13g protein, 1031mg sodium

1 comments:

Blogger said...

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