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
- 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.
- Peel the galangal (or ginger) and cut into thin round slices.
- 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.
- Put coconut milk, lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal (or ginger) and shallots in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a boil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Just before serving remove any large pieces of lemongrass and lime leaves.
- Stir through half the coriander leaves.
- 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.