Tom Kha

Tom Kha

I will never forget the first time I tried this soup. I was staying at White Sands Bungalows on Lamai beach on the Thai island of Koh Samui and I was slowly eating my way through the menu. I had no idea about Thai food apart from some recommendations from friends that had travelled to Thailand. There were two versions of Tom Kha, one with Gai, chicken and the other Gung which is prawn. Of course when your restaurant is on the beach you have to go for prawn. Anyway, this soup had to be ordered a day in advance. It was well worth the wait for the next day.

On another Thai island, Koh Tao, there were just four of us staying at this bungalow resort and we ate Tom Kha Gung every day, it was delicious, we then moved on to the next island Nang Yuan and I only had enough cash for breakfast and evening meal, but one of us four Alain from Luxembourg would go for lunch. He came back one day and he looked flushed and his eyes were streaming and lips swollen, he told me he had the Tom Yum and it was so spicy it hurt! Anyway I ordered it that evening and it was spicy, but very nice. The following day I ordered it again and it blew my head off it was so hot! Upon further investigation we found that there were two different cooks in the restaurant and one cooked up a milder version than the other.

So back to the recipe, it is very easy to make and tastes pretty authentic as I have served it many times to friends and they have all loved it. Sometimes if I can get mini aubergines I add them too, but try and keep the ingredients to a minimum.

Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main


2 tbsp veg oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 stalk lemon grass cut into 2 cm lengths
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red curry paste
2 green chilies finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves
3 cm galangal or ginger sliced
3 cups water
1kg chicken breast sliced
2 tbsp corn starch
1 can coconut milk
Handful finely sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/8 cup lime juice
Bunch of coriander chopped

Preparation method;

In a medium pot pour the oil and fry garlic, spring onion, lemon grass, pepper, curry paste, chilies, lime leaves and ginger for a couple of minutes, add the water and bring to boil.

Coat the chicken in the corn starch use flour if no corn starch and add to the water, cook for 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk mushrooms, fish sauce and lime juice and simmer for a few minutes. Garnish with coriander when serving.