Tom Kha Kai- Laos
It’s finally getting cold, and this spicy coconut soup from Laos is the perfect way to warm up! It’s almost like Thai green curry, but in soup form. I drank it by itself, but you could certainly add some rice noodles or rice to make a heartier meal. I’m always in favor of a heartier meal. One of my favorite things about this soup is that you can adjust the spice level- it can be sweet and mild, or make you breathe fire. Up to you. I’m usually breathing fire, anyways. Who needs spicy soup when midterm elections are 4 days away?
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
2 green chilis
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 inch piece ginger
2 oz cilantro (not shown)
2 cups broth (you can use seafood, chicken, or vegetable)
32 oz coconut milk
This recipe is just for the soupy base, you can put whatever vegetables and protein you want. Carrots, onions, sugar snap peas, green beans, bok choy, beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and tofu are all good options. You could even make a Frankensoup with all of the above.
Start by peeling the ginger and garlic, and crushing them in a mortar and pestle. You can also use a food processor if you live in the 21st century. I always chopped my ginger and garlic, but crushing them makes for a much finer paste, and lets all the flavor out.
Also chop up the green chilis. I chopped these instead of crushing them because I wanted to seed them. Always wash your hands after handling hot chilis!
Saute the ginger, garlic, and chilis with a bit of oil
, and then add in the lemongrass paste, fish sauce, honey, and brown sugar. You can also add some ground cumin or coriander if you’re feeling fancy.
Let that sizzle for a couple of minutes, then deglaze the pot with the broth. Add in the coconut milk (always shake up coconut milk cans before opening them), and the cilantro.
Let it come to a bubble, then take it off the heat and add salt to taste. At this point, your base is ready, and all that’s left to do is add whatever proteins and vegetables you’d like!