I was going to title this post “De-toxify: Tom Kah Kai” (get it, it rhymes?!?), but my husband looked at me like I was one of the top five biggest nerds on the planet, shook his head, and then asked me if I thought I was Lindsay Lohan checking in for more rehab.
No…I am definitely not Lindsay Lohan, but I do love to start off each year with a bit of a cleanse. For the month of January* I don’t drink. No beer, no wine, no one little cocktail at happy hour, nothing. And I have to say that it always feels great. I find that after the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year marathon it’s pretty easy to be feeling like a little detox would be good.
This soup is the perfect remedy. It is healthy, utterly satisfying, and gives the rewarding impression of having great healing powers as it cleans out your sinuses and awakens your senses. It is very quick to make and even yummier the next day. One thing to keep in mind if you’re making a big batch is that it will get spicier on day two and three, so if you’re not a hot fan, plan accordingly.
Tom Kah Kai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)
Modified from Use Real Butter who modified from Thai Cooking Made Easy by Sukhum Kittivech…ah the delights of recipe evolution!
Two 12 oz. cans coconut milk (or light coconut milk if you prefer)
1 cup chicken broth (if using bouillon cubes, I’d recommend two per one cup)
1/2 stalk of lemon grass, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 kaffir lime leaves (I can only find these some of the time. If you can’t find them at your local Asian market, just use a bit more lime juice)
8 quarter inch wide slices galanga (this is like ginger, but has a more complex flavor. If you can’t find it, the former will work)
1/4 loosely packed thai basil, coarsely chopped
6 red thai bird chilis, sliced or slit pending on your spicy tolerance (sliced is hotter)
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into thin, wide strips
3/4 pint white mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
2 tsp fish sauce
3 TB lime juice
1/2 tsp red thai curry (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
- Place the coconut milk, chicken broth, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galanga, thai basil, and chiles in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring so well combined.
- Add the chicken, mushrooms, fish sauce, lime juice, thai curry, sugar, honey, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and cook until the meat is done (being careful not to let it boil over, which is exactly what I did).
- Reduce to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, and letting the flavors mingle.
- Modify seasoning pending on preference. If adding more fish sauce, go slowly, that stuff is strong!
- Serve in bowls with cilantro sprinkled on top.
*True confession: I usually make it about three weeks.