If you’ve never had Tom Kha Gai soup (there’s like a million different ways to spell that by the way, sort of like “Hanukkah”) and you love soups that are sweet with a little zest, you’re in for a major treat.
This soup is a Thai classic and is a staple at many Thai restaurants. It’s always been one of my favorites and I am sure to order it just about every time I get a craving for Thai. This soup is basically the Thai version of a chicken soup except with a coconut milk base and the flavors are truly above and beyond.
I should also note that while my method may be a little untraditional on how you prepare this soup (NO galangal required), the end result will literally be identical to the best of the Tom Kha Gais.
The best part about my method is that ALL the ingredients can be found in pretty much any local market (and the larger ones should carry the lemongrass). It is SO crazy easy and quick to make (thanks Instant Pot!), you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Here’s How I Made It!:
Begin with a few stalks of lemongrass.
Chop them so that we are focused on the bottom half of the stalk.
Then slice the stalk in half and you’ll see that the lemongrass sort of acts like Russian nesting dolls in terms of layers. Discard the outermost layers.
Remove each layer from one another, and then slice in half…
…and then place in a bowl and set aside.
Now take some scallions…
…and chop ’em up!
Now take some thinly sliced chicken breasts…
…and cut them into sizeable pieces.
Lastly, take a lime…
…and juice it.
Now that the prep is done, onto the Instant Pot! Add in some chicken broth…
…and some coconut milk (use the kind in a can that’s unsweetened).
Pour the coconut milk in with the chicken broth…
…and then put the lime (juice) in the coconut! (sorry, couldn’t resist)
We’ll also take some crushed ginger, and I LOVE using this squeeze ginger because it’s so much more practical and convenient…
…and add it to the pot (it kinda looks like applesauce, right?)
Next, add in some fish sauce (and don’t scoff at it! It’s a key ingredient and you’ll love when it blends together with everything else!)…
…some sesame oil…
…crushed red pepper flakes…
Now let’s add in our prepped chicken…
…and sliced mushrooms.
Let’s also toss in a couple of bay leaves before giving everything a stir, securing the lid and cooking at high pressure.
When done, everything is going to smell very exciting.
Give the pot a stir…
…and discard the bay leaves.
Now for our three final ingredients: some hot sauce…
…Pad Thai sauce (crucial ingredient)…
…and some fresh cilantro.
Give everything a nice, good stir…
…take a ladle full of the soup and all the goodness within…
…transfer to a bowl…
…top with some extra fresh cilantro for garnish…
Truly one of the greatest soups EVER!
- 1 lb of thinly sliced chicken breasts/cutlets, about 1/8″ thick and cut into 1″ square-ish slices
- 2 cups of chicken broth (I used 2 tsp of Chicken Better Than Bouillon + 2 cups of water)
- 2 13.5-14oz cans of coconut milk (unsweetened and do use canned, not the kind in a carton)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
- 1 tbsp of crushed ginger
- 1/2 tbsp of sugar
- 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp of dried sweet basil
- 1 bunch of scallions, sliced
- 8oz of Baby Bella (Crimini) mushrooms, sliced
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, sliced and cut into thin 1.5″ strands (use the bottom-third of the stalk and the 4-5 closest inner layers from each. If you cannot find lemongrass, use the zest of 1 lemon + 1 tbsp of its juice)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup of Pad Thai sauce
- 1 tbsp of hot sauce
- 2-4 tbsp of fresh cilantro, chopped (with more for garnish)
- Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, dried basil, red pepper flakes, sugar, chicken, scallions, lemongrass, mushrooms and bay leaves to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release when done
- Remove the bay leaves and add in the hot sauce, Pad Thai sauce and fresh cilantro. Stir well and ladle into bowls
- ENJOY! (I TOLD you this was a snap!)
Can’t find lemongrass? The world isn’t going to end. Use the zest of 1 lemon + 1 tbsp of its juice instead!
The only part of the lemongrass that’s meant to be eaten is the core center which is soft. The rest, while important to enhance the flavor of the soup and serve as a garnish, is mostly too fibrous for eating but you can try!
Want shrimp in there too? Cool! Add raw ones in at the very end when stirring, bring the pot to a simmer on “Sauté” and cook the shrimp until white in color.
Really and truly, do not worry if the fish sauce is a bit pungent in its aroma. It is a completely necessary ingredient and a totally different story once added to the soup. It won’t overpower and will just blend into the wonderful flavor background.