Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)

>> 5.11.2010

It is no secret that I love soup.   It is very hard to beat potato leek soup, but I have to admit, I think this soup is my absolute favorite.  When I make this soup, my whole kitchen fills with exotic scents, the coconut and peanut butter alone smell unbelievable as they heat up together, and as each ingredient is incorporated, another layer of depth is added that makes this soup so special.  If you like Thai, you will love this soup!  It is quick and easy to prepare, but it will wow your guests.  

Tom Ka Gai

*1 TBS coconut oil
*1 TBS peanut butter
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*2 chopped lemon grass stalks
*2 tsp crushed red pepper
*1 tsp ground coriander
*1 tsp ground cumin
*1 skinless boneless free range chicken breast half, cut into thin strips
*1 Onion, sliced thinly
*3 cups chopped bok choy
*4 cups water
*10 oz coconut milk
*1/4 cup fish sauce*
*1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

This recipe is very easy to throw together if you prep all of your ingredients first.  There is not much time for all of the chopping between steps, so be prepared.  Start by chopping your garlic, lemon grass, bok choy, onion and cilantro, and have your chicken ready to go in thin strips as well.     

Combine the coconut oil and peanut butter in your pot and heat through.  Add your garlic, lemon grass, red pepper, coriander and cumin and cook until fragrant.  (About 2 minutes.)  Add your onion and chicken and cook until chicken is mostly done and onion is translucent.  (About 5 minutes.)  Stir in bok choy and cook until it begins to wilt.  (About 5 minutes.)  

Stir in water, coconut milk, fish sauce and cilantro.  Summer until  chicken is thoroughly cooked and the flavors are well blended.  (About 30 minutes.)

Garnish with some fresh carrot and cilantro.  The crisp cool carrot partners well with the spice in this soup.  I often serve it with coconut rice, and often add mushrooms during the first step.  


*A word about fish sauce:  My first encounter with fish sauce was making this soup years ago.  I bought it, even though it seemed very suspicious.  When I opened it, I realized I was right to be leery of it.  It smells like what it sounds like: someone made sauce out of a fish.  Now, I'm not sure how it is made, it says that it is made with anchovies.  All I know is that is is oily and fishy.  Do not put it up to your nose.   However, I almost didn't put it in my soup that day and I am SO glad I resisted my wimpy impulse.  It MADE the soup.  Do not omit it, as scary as it is, it is probably the most important ingredient.  :)  In fact, I love the flavor so much that I use it in other things now also. Trust me, you will love it! 

*Also, I got this recipe from Allrecipes years ago and have slightly modified it.  I do want to give the original credit though!




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