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Old 11-17-2005, 02:57 PM   #1
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Tom Ka Gai

I want to make this soup and am having recipe issues.

Below is a list of ingredients for tom ka gai from a cookbook I have by Joyce Jue.

8 Kaffir Lime Leaves
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
6 slices fresh galalgal
4 stalks lemon grass
4 small green chiles
1 tablespoon thai roasted chili paste (nam prik pao)
1 whole chicken breast
1/2 cup straw mushrooms
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1/4 cup fish sauce
6 tablespoons lime juice
cilantro for garnish

This list of ingredients is the longest of all I have seen. It's also the only one which contains the chili paste.

Most recipes call for lime zest rather than lime leaves. I suspect that's a convenience/availability issue. Some call for ginger while others call for ginger as a sub for the galalgal.

This listing of ingredients also has the largest quantity of lemon grass.

Are there any Thai food experts out there who can set me straight on an authentic recipe for this soup?
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:13 PM   #2
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Andy

That looks like a very good recipe. I usually don't put roasted chile paste in my Tom Ka Gai (as opposed to Tom Yum) but I suppose you could. Otherwise, it looks just like my recipe, with the exception that I use garlic also.

Regarding the lime leaves. That's what you should use if you have them. You can get them fresh at the 88 in South Bay, Dorchester right on the xpressway. Lime zest isn't really the same, but lime leaves can be hard to find.

Lemongrass. I suspect your recipe may be a quick one, and thus the more lemongrass the more flavor in a quick amount of time. And also, you probably are asked to trim them down. I use 4 (or more since I grow my own).

Ginger/galangal. You are right. Galangal if you can get it (that's a tough one) but fresh ginger otherwise.

Edited to add that I submitted my recipe for this to a national recipe contest recently!
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:15 PM   #3
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I'm not a thai expert Andy, but this recipe does not call for chili paste, and calls for 5- 2" pieces of lemon grass. It also mentions the kaffir lime leaves, bruised to release flavor, but I suppose if you used lime zest you may have to use more since it's fresh.

http://importfood.com/recipes/tcsoupwithcomilk.html
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:25 PM   #4
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Jenny:

Thanks for the info. I guess it is a quick soup. Cooking time all told is only 24 minutes. 20 to extract flavors from the lemongrass etc. then 4 more to cook the chicken.

There are any number of Asian markets around here. I'm going to have to locate some Thai markets and stock up to make the soup. If I can't find what I need, I'll have to make a field trip to the 88.


amber:

Thanks for the link.
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
...Edited to add that I submitted my recipe for this to a national recipe contest recently!
Perhaps you would be willing to share the recipe...

If you win the contest, of course!
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Old 11-17-2005, 05:47 PM   #6
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Kaffir lime leaves are used a lot in Thai cooking and are readily available on the spice shelves of most of the UK supermarkets. I should think that any Asian food shop would stock them, dried and fresh.
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Old 11-17-2005, 06:34 PM   #7
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Andy, I'm definitely not a Thai food expert, but the recipe looks pretty good to me. It's one that I would actually try. I would always go with a recipe that has the leaves, as I think these are more authentic than recipes w/ lime zest.
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Old 11-17-2005, 09:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
6 slices fresh galalgal
What is the $*$% is that stuff?
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Old 11-17-2005, 11:27 PM   #9
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Galangal
A close relative of ginger, galangal is an important and popular ingredient in the foods of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand. Ground Galangal (formerly called Laos powder) is easier to work with than whole Galangal and is commonly called for in recipes. The flavor is similar to ginger, but more flowery and intense. Use small amounts when starting out. Its flavor combines with ginger and lemon grass in Thai cooking, and with white pepper and/or cayenne for seasoning fish, meat or poultry. From Thailand.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:41 PM   #10
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The Tom Ka Gai Soup Adventure

Thursday night after reading the helpful posts here, I saw part of a segment on a local TV station about the store Jennyema mentioned (Super 88)! They mentioned the store in Malden (closer to home) and we made a field trip Saturday.

WOW what a place! Live fish being pulled out of a tank for customers - now that's fresh! Selections of cauliflower in three or four different colors and a mind-boggling selection for stuff you've never seen before. The prices are also amazing, much less than supermarkets.

Funny thing, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. The galangal was labeled 'Assorted Vegetables'. I had to rely on my memory of what it was to make the selection. Same for the lime leaves - labeled lemon leaves!

The staff wasn't much help, however, the store manager was great! She confirmed I had the right items. She couldn't find the roasted chile paste and promised to get it for me tomorrow. Based on jennyema's recommendation, I told her I didn't need it.

Sunday lunch was tom ka gai.

It's a soup I've never tasted before so I can only assume my version was reasonabley close to what it should be. It's an interesting blend of the creaminess provided by the coconut milk and the tartness provided by the lemongrass and lime juice. The key to the recipe seems to be getting those two flavors to balance in the soup so neither is overpowering.

Thanks for your help.
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