I had the best Thai food of my life…in Paris…over the Thanksgiving holiday. Go figure, right? We’d spent the day strolling the rues, treated our daughter to a very hip art exhibit then headed out into the rain and cold in search of dinner. Can we talk about the contrasts of Paris? It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (IMO) and its beauty shines through the gloomiest, rainiest, dreariest of weather, but I digress. Back to the lecture at hand. Thai food. Paris. Cold.
I have to say there’s nothing quite as odd as a Thai menu written in French. I ordered something I couldn’t identify on the menu or on my plate once it arrived — a motley crew of crunchy, deep-fried nuggets.
Coconut Chicken & Shrimp Soup
Everyone else had ordered The Soup — broth, coconut milk, lemongrass, chicken and mushrooms. Yum or Tom kha gai as it’s affectionately known. Back in the states, I headed straight for the Asian market for supplies and simmered up my own version with chicken and shrimp. Soup’s on!
Galangal is a cousin of ginger. If you can’t find it, fresh ginger will make a decent substitute.
Bring the broth and coconut milk to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. A long, rolling boil may cause the fat in the coconut milk to separate.
Boiling & Simmering
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 4 lime leaves
- 1 1-inch piece galangal, thinly sliced
- 1 Thai chili, halved lengthwise
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 5-inch pieces, crushed & tied with kitchen twine
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined cilantro, for garnish
- Combine stock, lime leaves, galangal and chili in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, lemongrass, mushrooms and chicken.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the chicken and shrimp are cooked through. Remove the lemongrass. Garnish the soup with cilantro and serve.