Soup and Stories [Tom Kah Gai]

Let me first start by telling you my laptop mysteriously shut down just as I was about to click “post” on a completely finished entry. For a second I thought my heart might pound right through the vein in my neck. Luckily Allan made me some tea and I calmed down. Otherwise the Bronson nightcrew might have found themselves a new laptop tonight.

Let’s try this again. You’re lucky I love you… I wouldn’t do this for just anyone.

I hurried to get through my dinner tonight so I could rush here (‘here’ being the couch…it was an awful long journey) and talk to you about soup. Tangy, sweet, spicy thai soup, to be more specific.

When I promised I would start being more adventurous in the kitchen in 2011, I had high hopes of testing my skills with varying cuisines, as well. One in particular being Thai food. I tend not to dabble in Thai because there are so many great restaurants in Ottawa that I’ve never had to. But, you know, sometimes I don’t want to leave my house (or my beloved sweatpants) to get a bowl of soup. What is a girl to do?

I was catching up on some Internetting Sunday morning and thought to myself, while vigorously rubbing my arms to rid them of the permanent goosebumps this weather has given me, that I could really use a bowl of Tom Kah Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup). Without appropriate company for a restaurant visit, it seemed I would have to roll up my sleeves and finally give Thai-at-home a try. Reluctantly.

I did a little reading about the soup and it’s authentic ingredient list before heading out with Mr. GL to run some errands. In a perfect world, I would have ended up at T&T or Kowloon Market to ensure my ingredient list could be procured. But as luck would (and usually does) have it, my dreams of galangal and keffir limes were dashed when we ran out of time and needed to get home. I was left at my little Glebe Metro, which I adore on most days, but comes up short in the ethnic/obscure food department. This was a long story to basically explain that this soup is not a typical Tom Kah Gai. But you like stories, right? I thought so. (This is why writing a blog is the best. I just tell myself you’re all sitting there, wide eyed and fully engaged in my story telling. You’re my favourite audience!)

Never the less, the soup was made and enjoyed supremely. While not an authentic Tom Kah Gai, it was decievingly close in flavour and appearance. If you’re stuck for time and looking for a close resemblance, all these ingredients can be easily found at your local grocery store.

Tom Kah Gai (the Gouda Life way)

4 cups chicken/shrimp stock
1 can coconut milk (preferably not low-fat)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1-2 thai chilies, diced or 1 tbsp (or more) Sriracha sauce
1 tbsp lime zest
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 portabella mushrooms, sliced thin
1 ripe tomato, diced
10 (approx) medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped

In a large pot over medium heat, add the chicken stock, coconut milk, sugar and chilies. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the lime zest, chicken, mushrooms, shrimp and tomato. Stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat, add the lime juice and fish sauce and stir well.

Ladle into bowls and serve with cilantro.

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