Chicken and Galangal Soup

Tom Kha Gai Soup (Photo by MadMan the Mighty/flickr)

Serves 6.


1 roasting chicken
10 slices fresh, frozen, dried or brined galangal
400 ml/14 fl oz can coconut milk
4 coriander plants with roots
12 black peppercorns, pounded
2 stems lemon grass, thinly sliced
4 fresh green chillies
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
lime juice to taste


Cut the chicken into joints, then chop the joints into small serving pieces. If using dried galangal, soak it in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Put chicken and galangal into a saucepan. Set aside half the can of coconut milk for adding later, and dilute the rest with water to make 750 ml (1 1/2 pints) thin coconut milk. Add thin milk to the pan with the chicken, add the well-washed and crushed coriander roots, pepper, lemon grass, whole chillies, salt and lime leaves. Bring to the boil over low heat. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is tender.

Add the thick coconut milk, stirring constantly until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in fish sauce and sufficient lime juice to give a piquant flavour. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves and with steamed rice served separately.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)