Steve’s Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken & Coconut Milk Soup)

Add 54 oz of chicken broth to a large stock pot. Cut the onion into bite-sized pieces (about 1” square) and simmer in the broth until the pieces start to turn soft. Do not overcook or they will become mushy. Remove the cooked onions from the broth and set aside.

Slice unpeeled galangal root into 1mm slices. Trim and discard the dry green stalks from the lemon grass. Cut remainder into 3" lengths and smash to release the juices. (Do not smash too hard or the pieces will fall apart.) Add the galangal root and lemon grass to the chicken broth. Cover and lightly simmer for 30 minutes.

Gently tear the Kaffir lime leaves to release the juices. (Do not tear through the midrib or the leaves will fall apart.) Add the Kaffir lime leaves to the broth and remove from heat. Let covered pot stand for at least 1 hour to let the flavors infuse into the broth. Remove the solids from the broth and save the most attractive pieces for adding later to the individual serving bowls.

Add the tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, mushrooms (drained), and dried red pepper flakes to the broth. Bring to a simmer again and then remove from heat. Add the cooked onions, coconut milk (40.5 oz), cilantro, and 4 of the Thai chilies to the warm broth. Adjust flavor with salt, palm sugar, red pepper, and fish sauce as needed.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized (about 1” x ½” x ⅛”) pieces. In a separate small pot, heat the remaining 8 oz of chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken pieces to the broth. When the outside of each piece turns white, remove immediately and set aside. (The inside should still be slightly pink. (If the chicken is allowed to cook all the way through at this point it will become tough and dry. Don't worry. The chicken will continue to cook when served as it sits in the hot soup.)

The soup and poached chicken can be refrigerated and served later. To serve, first heat the soup in a microwave oven. Then add the poached chicken to each serving. Serve with finely sliced Thai chilies. Serves 8 persons.


*Note: In Marin County, the coconut milk, straw mushrooms, galangal root, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, concentrate cooking tamarind, fish sauce, and Thai chilies can be purchased at:

Asian Market
5 Mary Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 459-7133