Chicken and Galangal Soup

I often think chicken and galangal soup (tom ka gai) is perhaps the best example of Thai cuisine. Unlike its more famous cousin tom yum the taste of this thick soup is more varied and sublime. The undercurrents given by the galangal, lime juice, lemongrass and pepper make this dish quite remarkable.

Chicken galangal soup

Chicken and Galangal Soup

The first part of the Thai name, tom ka, simply means “boiled galangal” while gai is the Thai word for chicken. Although the meat most commonly used in this soup is chicken, tom ka can also be made with fish, shellfish and other poultry, but the somewhat delicate flavour doesn't hold up well against beef or pork.

As with several other Thai dishes, your main challenge here, aside from the herbs and spices, will be the straw mushrooms. Even in Bangkok, they seem to be disappearing from the markets in favor of sturdier 'foreign' varieties. For the photo, I had to resort to canned mushrooms, which better approximate the taste and texture that other types of fresh ones.


Straw mushrooms100 g / ¼ lb
Chicken80 g / 3 ozSliced
Coconut Milk200 ml / 1 c
Chicken stock100 ml / ½ c
Lime juice1 Tbl
Fish sauce1 Tbl
Galangal10 slices
Lemongrass½ TblChopped
White pepper1 tsp
Kaffir lime leaves td>3Torn
Roasted Chili oil1 tsp

Preparation Method

  • Combine coconut milk, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken pieces and mushrooms, and return the mixture to a boil.
  • Add remaining ingredients: Chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice, white pepper and roasted chili sauce.
  • Pour into serving bowl and garnish with a few leaves of coriander.

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