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Before I cooked very often, I never really thought about what went into the food that I ate at restaurants. But now that I mostly eat stuff I make myself, I’m cursed with comparing any meal I buy with what I could cook at home. Most of the time at restaurants I eat things that would require way too much effort or special equipment for me to actually make, and I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Occasionally, I end up eating simple junk and feeling ripped off. And every once in a while, I order something that I wonder if I could make myself.

Most recently, I’ve been repeat ordering this Thai coconut chicken soup called Tom Kha from Little Bangkok, a restaurant I pass by all the time. I decided to try to recreate it at home, but after looking at a bunch of recipes, I realized I needed some ingredients I couldn’t get at the Publix by my apartment. Even though this recipe is really easy, it’s more of a project because you need to go somewhere like the Dekalb Farmer’s Market where you can buy fresh lemongrass stalks and galanga root. My soup turned out really well, but I won’t say it was as good as the stuff from Little Bangkok. Their recipe must include heroin or something. Still, I’d highly recommend giving this soup a try if you can get all the stuff to make it.

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Ingredients:

3 cups chicken stock

1 can unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 stalks of fresh lemongrass

4 or 5 dried chiles

1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns

2 pods star anise

1.5 inch chunk of galanga root

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Zest of 1 lime

Sriracha

Salt

1 pound chicken thighs

1/2 pound wild mushrooms

Process:

  1. Chop lemongrass into 1 inch pieces, crush garlic cloves, and chop galanga root into chunks. Add those ingredients to a large soup pot, along with sugar, peppercorns, star anise, chiles, garlic and liquids. Add salt to taste, probably a couple teaspoons. Put your pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. While your broth simmers, cut chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces. Chop mushrooms if needed.
  3. When your broth is finished simmering, strain it into a large bowl and return it to the pot. Add chicken and mushrooms and simmer for another 15 minutes or so until chicken is cooked through. Ladle delicious, addictive soup into a bowl and garnish with Sriracha and cilantro.
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