Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tom Kha, no Gai

This is a quick and easy way to get some bone-warming Thai flavors onto your table. I took lots of weeknight-friendly shortcuts, and the soup was still utterly satisfying,


Veggie bullion (or chicken broth)
3 TB lemongrass in a tube (or 4 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 4-inch lengths and smashed with the back of a knife)
3 TB ginger in a tube (or a big, hand-sized hunk of ginger, peeled, chopped and smashed with back of knife)
4-5 Thai chilis, stems chopped off (or Sriracha to taste)
Juice of 1 - 2 limes
Chopped kale - or, if you prefer, the more traditional add-ins of chicken and/or mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2 TB fish sauce (vegetarian fish sauce can be found at Vietnamese markets)

To top:  Fresh cilantro leaves, and I highly recommend fried garlic from an Asian market (or homemade, but it's easily purchased), which packs a great flavor punch on all kinds of soups, from tomato to pho.

Equipment:  A fine mesh strainer.

1.  Mix 8 cups of water with half the amount of bullion called for so it's not overpowering.  Add lime juice, chilis or sriracha, ginger, and lemongrass, and boil for 10 minutes, tasting and adjusting along the way to see if you need more of anything to make the broth pop.  Then, strain to remove the ginger and lemongrass pulp.

2.  Return to a boil and add whatever ingredients you want.  I made it simple with just kale.  Boil until these are cooked.

3.  Add about 1/2 to 3/4 of your can of coconut milk, to taste, plus fish sauce. Again, taste and adjust before serving.  Some recipes recommend a bit of sugar this point; I left it out, but follow your tastebuds.

4.  Ladle into bowls and serve with a small bowl of rice and a small well-baked sweet potato on the side.  Top with fresh cilantro and fried garlic.  

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