Chicken Galangal Fresh Coconut Soup
(tom kha gai ; ต้มข่าไก่)

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By: Hanuman

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It is pretty cheering and I must say rare that a single local dish will grab the attention of the entire world. Tom kha gai did just that! However, with fame comes the danger of losing it essence. You see, if a dish can be found on a menu of a Thai restaurant in the heart of rural America, where you will not find any Thai people in a 50km radius, I would not easily trust their interpretation of it.

The truth of the matter is that this is a very simple dish to make and so very delicious.

It is simple dishes like this, with an elegant statement, that really brings local flavors into your plate. I hope you will approve, well, I know you would, after all, it is hard not to welcome the soothing silkiness of this warm and creamy coconut soup that focuses on the essentials – tastiness.

Chicken Galangal Fresh Coconut Soup Recipe


  1. 300gr chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup coconut milk
  3. 2 cups coconut cream
  4. 2 cups water
  5. 2 galangal root about 5cm (2″) each (preferably mature galangal),
  6. 6-8 Large straw mushrooms
  7. 1/4 cup thinly chopped galangal root (preferably young galangal)
  8. 2 tbs chopped lemon grass
  9. 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  10. 3 tbs fish sauce
  11. 3 tbs lime juice
  12. 10 bird’s eye chilies
  13. 1 stalk coriander


  1. Prepare fresh coconut cream and milk as describes here or use canned coconut cream.
  2. Cut skinless chicken breasts into even bite size pieces to assure even cooking. Cut at 45 ° across the meat fibers. To cut the chicken into beautiful pieces, place the chicken on the cutting board with the skin side down.
  3. Bring the coconut milk into a boil, (if using canned coconut,  dilute couple tablespoon of canned coconut cream with water to substitute).
  4. Add chicken and briefly cook for couple of minutes, or until only just bit more than half done.
  5. Immediately remove the chicken and set aside. (The meat will cook further from the residual heat and the chicken will remain moist and tender).
  6. Bring half of coconut cream mixed the water to a boil.
  7. Add two whole 5 cm (2″) long galangal roots. Bruise the roots hard in a mortar and pestle. Simmer for about five minutes.
  8. Remove the bruised roots and discard.
  9. Add sliced galangal, chopped lemon grass.
  10. Add straw mushrooms
  11. Keep simmering for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-low heat until fragrant.
  12. Season with fish sauce
  13. Return the chicken to the soup
  14. Add remaining coconut cream, splitting the coconut cream ensure smooth and creamy texture, coconut cream tends to break the oil if cooked for long.
  15. Add hand teared kaffir lime leaves, season with limejuice (equal in amount to the fish sauce) add bird’s eye chilies.
  16. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.
4 comments… add one
  • Lee Apr 19, 2010, 2:14 pm

    หนูชอบกินต้มข่าไก่มากๆค่ะ เพราะมันได้รสของกะทิดีค่ะ แต่ไม่เลี่ยนจนเกินไป ถือเป็นเมนูที่รสกลมกล่อมมากๆค่ะ
    ขอบคุณนะค่ะ จะพยายามหัดทำให้ได้บ้างค่ะ

  • Harry May 2, 2010, 3:30 pm

    “grab the attention of the entire world. Tom kha gai did just that! “.
    Come on, world famous .. between Chaing Rai and Songkla, but outside … Always the dramatic overestimation importacny off Thai foods. To give you an idea, in the Netherlands .. below 100 Thai restaurants and over 2400 Chinese..

    • Mr.B May 7, 2015, 5:16 am

      My favourite Thai dish and I love it, when perfected nothing else touches it. I too used to gobble down carb and salt laden Chinese food but my taste buds evolved when I found good Thai food.

  • Ronald Jan 28, 2011, 9:50 pm

    This is really one of my favorites. I tried it in many restaurants around the world as well and can just confirm what you said. Make sure there are Thais around that know what they are doing. And by the way, it’s also world famous between Groningen and Maastricht in the Netherlands :-) Quantity doesn’t mean quality.

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