Monday, 11 February 2013

Thai Spice of Life - Tom Kah Gai Soup Recipe

I love cooking and eating and I love to take pictures of food. In fact, I love everything about food. Back in November, I visited Thailand with my boyfriend and one of the top things on our to do list was to take part in a Thai cooking course. We stayed on Koh Lanta and were lucky enough to find an amazing cooking school Time For Lime. It came highly recommended by the guest house we were staying at and we were drawn in by great reviews and this description.

“Meet other food enthusiasts from around the world and share the fun of Thai cooking. While wining and dining, listening to good music in a relaxed and clean environment. Since the cooking school is on the beachfront you will also see, hear and feel the harmony of the sea. Enjoy your time – you’re on holiday!”
It was such a fantastic experience! We learnt a great deal about Thai ingredients before entering the kitchen and then got the chance to cook 4 dishes. We were taught about the kind of ingredients we could use as substitutes in our own countries. We also learned how to make curry pastes from scratch and the difference between fresh and shop bought is spectacular. It was a great social experience in a beautiful setting and I got the chance to create a huge flame in a wok which I could definitely not do at home due to a very sensitive fire alarm.
 Since returning to the UK, the one thing we have cooked a few times is Thai Soup. We have adapted the original recipe that we learned but I thought it would be good to share the recipe as it is very easy to make, relatively healthy and simple to adapt to your taste. The hot and sour flavours are perfect for cold wintery days such as today.
Thai cooking consists of the 3 S’s (sweet, sour and salty) plus spice.  The balance of these flavours is not the same in every dish. This recipe contains all three and certainly packs a punch. The first s you should taste is sour, the second sweet and then the third salty.  The recipe can be adapted and made without coconut milk, using more stock instead for a lighter soup (Like Tom Yum) and chicken can be substituted for prawns or seafood.  Of course, you can also adapt the level of spice in your soup. Quick and easy, it is great for a quick meal after work. I live in London and we are lucky as we have several Thai Supermarkets local to us but many of the ingredients are available now in regular supermarkets and you are also able to buy specific  ingredients online.
Tom Kha Gai - Tangy Coconut Soup with Fresh Thai Herbs and Chicken  (Serves 4)
3 cups coconut milk
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
12 slices galangal (This is not ginger)
3 stems lemongrass (‘Leave me’ way)
8 kaffir lime leaves
3 chicken breasts thinly sliced
4 Thai red onions or 1 medium red onion finely sliced
3 birds eye chillies (‘Leave me’ way)
1 medium onion cut into 4 wedges and then halved
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
3 tomatoes ( cut into 4 wedges and deseeded)
2 spring onions cut into 5cm pieces
4 tablespoons lime juice
Coriander leaves for garnish
How to make the soup
1.     Firstly prepare your ingredients as the cooking time is actually very short. Vegetables and herbs in Thai recipes are prepared and chopped in such a way so that you can distinguish which you should eat and which you should leave as they have just been included for flavour. The ingredients on the left below are ‘leave me’ ( From the top, galangal, birds eye chilli, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf) and the ones on the right are ‘eat me ( ginger, birds eye chilli, Thai onion and Kaffir lime leaf).
2.     Pour coconut cream/milk and stock into a pot. Add galangal, lemongrass, chill, kaffir lime leaves and Thai Red onion in ‘leave me style’. This normally means that you would leave them bigger and bash to release the flavour. Cover, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 6 minutes.
3.      Add chicken, onions, fish sauce, sugar and salt and let simmer for 3 minutes.
4.      Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 seconds. Adding the tomatoes before will have the effect of a red t-shirt in a white wash so always add near the end to keep your soup looking white.
5.      Add the spring onions and then the final step is to add the lime juice once you have turned off the heat. Adding lime before this point can make it taste bitter. This is where the name ‘Time for lime’ came from.
6.   Garnish with coriander before serving and then enjoy!
I served the soup with Pad kaprow goong ( Shrimp with holy basil) and I will share this recipe  another day. This is my dinner from tonight, a Tom Yum style Thai seafood soup that is based on the recipe above but without coconut milk.

 I'd love to see and hear about your recipes too so post me comments or show me your pics on Instagram. I never get bored of food pictures!



1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I have a question about your blog, could you please email me? Thanks!!