It sounds scary and difficult, but it's not! I promise.
When we lived in St. George, Ryan and I loved to go to Benja's, which is an amazing Thai restaurant. One of the dishes we love most is the Tom Kha Kai soup. It took me awhile to get hooked on it, but once I did, I could not stop eating it.
Sadly, I have yet to find a place in Provo that serves it (if you know of one please let me know), and I crave it all the time. I have looked for recipes, but I have always been intimidated by the ingredients. Finally, I was craving it so bad that I decided to just go for it and hope for the best.
I found an awesome recipe at The Quixotic Table and decided to give it a go. I had to go to a Asian food market to find some of the ingredients, but I was able to get most everything at the grocery store. I made a couple alterations from the original recipe.
1. I halved everything. This recipe is huge. Even cut in half this recipe still fed us multiple times.
2. I substituted vegetarian Golden Mountain sauce for the fish sauce. Fish sauce is essentially fermented fish and salt. It is used in a ton of Thai food. But after reading some tips on using it, I read that while it does not taste fishy in food, sometimes the cook can smell/taste it because it is overwhelming alone. I hate fish, so I decided to be safe and replace it. I found the Golden Mountain sauce worked great and achieved the same flavor I was going for, without the fishy taste.
Tom Kha Kai
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
2 19 ounce cans of coconut milk
1 stalk lemongrass, pounded with the back of a knife & cut into thirds
4-6 kaffir lime leaves
2-3 inch piece galangal, sliced
1 palm sugar disc, crushed
6-8 ounces mushrooms
Any veggies desired (I used spinach, but broccoli or snap peas would be good too)
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/3 cup Golden Mountain sauce or fish Sauce
1 bunch cilantro for topping if desired
In a large pot, add chicken broth, coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal. Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 30 minutes. The broth should be strong and fragrant. Use a slotted spoon to remove the lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal. Add the palm sugar, mushrooms, and veggies. Cook until mushrooms and veggies are soft. Add the Golden Mountain or fish sauce and chicken.
Serve over jasmine rice for a more filling meal, and add chili sauce or oil for some kick!
I know this might seem like an intimidating recipe, but if I can pull it off, I promise you can too! If you like Thai food, give this a try!