Tom Khaa Kai Print

Tom Khaa Kai

Serves 4

This classic Thai soup is not meant to be overwhelmingly hot, but to have a sweet, salty, sour taste.


2 lemon grass stalks, white part only
5cm piece of galangal (or ginger)
2 chicken breasts (350g)
700-800ml coconut milk (reduced fat), shake the can to mix well
5 makrut lime leaves, roughly torn
2 shallots, finely sliced
100g button mushrooms, halved
2 tbsp fish sauce
15g/1 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)
10 cherry tomatoes, halved (leave whole if very small)
3 tbsp lime juice
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
20g coriander, leaves


  1. Remove the tough outer leaves from the lemon grass.  Using the tip of a knife cut along the length of the remaining inner part to form a tassel and bruise once with a rolling pin.
  2. Peel the galangal (or ginger) and cut into thin round slices.
  3. To prepare the chicken, lay the breasts between two layers of clingfilm and bash with a rolling pin, then on a chopping board, slice into pencil thin strips.
  4. Put coconut milk, lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal (or ginger) and shallots in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the chicken, mushrooms, fish sauce and sugar and reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add the tomatoes, lime juice and most of the chillies (finely chopping the remaining slices to use later as a garnish) and simmer for 3 minutes only. Taste and adjust the seasonings. 
  7. Just before serving remove any large pieces of lemongrass and lime leaves.
  8. Stir through half the coriander leaves.
  9. To serve, add coriander leaves and chopped chilli to each bowl and ladle over the hot soup.

Galangal has a distinct pine like, citrus flavour.  While ginger differs in taste, cooks often use it as a substitute for galangal.


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