Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)

Thais were very adapt at ‘Siamese-icing’ foreign cooking methods, and substituting ingredients. The ghee used in Indian cooking was replaced by coconut oil, and coconut milk substituted for other daily products. Overpowering pure spices were toned down and enhanced by fresh herbs such as lemon grass and galanga. Eventually, fewer and less spices were used in Thai curries, while the use of fresh herbs increased. It is generally acknowledged that Thai curries burn intensely, but briefly, whereas other curries, with strong spices, burn for longer periods. Instead of serving dishes in courses, a Thai meal is served all at once, permitting dinners to enjoy complementary combinations of different tastes. This is a mild but spicy chicken soup (it can also be made with shrimp, pork, beef or mushrooms), flavored with the very unique flavor of galangal (“kha” in Thai) which creates a heavenly taste when combined with hot chile peppers, coconut milk, lime leaves and lemongrass.


  • 340 gm boneless, skinless chicken meat
  • 45 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 (500 gm) cans coconut milk
  • 475 ml water
  • 10 gm minced fresh ginger root
  • 60 ml homemade fish sauce (to allow use with the chicken) – a mix of soy sauce, boullion & a little corn starch, or Worcestershire sauce that doesn’t have fish in the ingredients
  • 60 ml fresh lime juice
  • 0.4 gm cayenne pepper
  • 1 gm ground turmeric
  • 10 gm thinly sliced green onion
  • 3 gm chopped fresh cilantro


  • Cut chicken into thin strips and saute in oil for to 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken turns white.
  • In a pot, bring coconut milk and water to a boil. Reduce heat. Add ginger, homemade fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne powder and turmeric. Simmer until the chicken is done, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with scallions and fresh cilantro and serve steaming hot.

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