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Thai-Style Coconut and Chicken Soup
Tom kha gai is a Thai soup rich with coconut milk but balanced with chili heat and lime, plus the tropical flavors and aromas of galangal, lemon grass and makrut. Chicken and mushrooms give the soup substance without dulling the aromatics. In Bangkok, chef Piched Kaewhem taught us how quickly and easily tom kha gai comes together. We set out to develop a recipe modeled on the Thai classic, but using readily available ingredients. We opted for lime zest in place of makrut leaves and ginger instead of galangal—imperfect substitutions, but good enough to make a flavorful, fragrant broth. A couple tablespoons of store-bought Thai roasted chili paste—called nam prik pao—brought savory background notes. But the coconut milk was a challenge. We tried many brands of canned coconut milk and got mixed results—from watery brews to curdled messes. Ultimately, we made our own coconut milk by blending dried coconut with water and straining the puree; we then fortify it with canned coconut cream (a more consistent product than canned coconut milk) and coconut water. If you like, serve jasmine rice alongside.
cups unsweetened shredded coconut
cups warm water