Every Friday night in Malawi, we had a potluck dinner with all of the missionaries. This was not an ordinary church lunch style potluck. Each week, one household was in charge of planning the potluck. There was a theme, and other households signed up for specific dishes. Every couple of weeks, we had Mexican night. Bech and I did "Southern night" and "French Provencal" night (I know, it sounds kinda uppity--It was just roasted chicken with herbs and lots of fresh vegetables for sides).
One of my favorite nights was "Thai night," planned by Laura Stoms (who went to culinary school). Her potluck nights were my favorites and this night was no exception. Bech and I signed up for (and were given the recipe for) Kassava cakes (like potato cakes, but with Kassava) and Mango Mojo. They were amazing--I might need to share that recipe, too!
At that potluck, Laura made Tom Kha Gai (coconut milk soup flavored with lemongrass and galangal). And I fell in love. Seriously, I went back for like 2 refills of that soup (don't worry fellow ABC'ers, I waited until everybody had a first helping!). Beth made the soup another time that year, and I loved it then too.
I tried to make it last year and our year in Malawi. It was okay, but not great. I had consigned myself to just eating my tom kha gai in thai restaurants for the rest of my life. But lately, we've been making spring rolls. And I keep thinking how great tom kha gai would be with spring rolls. So I decided to make another attempt.
I found this recipe online, and tweaked it a little. And it was AMAZING. Seriously...sooo good!
Here's what I did:
Bring 1 cup chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock) to a boil. Add 6 chunks of galangal (I have used ginger in the past instead of galangal--don't do this unless you have to! The galangal made a lot of difference! You can find it in an Asian store or in your grocery store) and 1/2 stalk of lemongrass (break it up a little to release the flavor, then cut it into 2 inch pieces). 1/2 tsp of sugar, and 2 Kaffir lime leaves.
Simmer for 5 minutes
Add a can of coconut milk, 3 Thai bird's eyes chillies (cut into chunks), and 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce (I then added a little more later...but there is nothing grosser than too much fish sauce, so I started out with less!).
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms (we just put in regular mushrooms).
Cook for 10 more minutes. I turned the heat up a bit from simmer, but didn't bring it to a boil.
Add 2 tbsp lime juice, turn the heat off immediately, and serve!
Here is the finished project, along with spring rolls and peanut butter/garlic/hoisin sauce.
The soup is a little spicy, so you can use just 1 or 2 of the bird's eye chillies. Also, you can strain out the lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal. I personally like to leave them in. You can serve this soup over rice, if you want, but I would suggest adding extra coconut milk if so.
Okay, so there is my world's longest post about tom kha gai. I really hope someone uses this recipe, because it really was SOOO good!