‘Tom Kha’ is an iconic Thai soup and among the most popular Thai dishes outside of Thailand. The broth contains a large portion of coconut milk which imparts the the dominant flavor of this soup aromatized with three lemony herbs, lemongrass, makrut lime and galangal. In fact, the name of this soup literally means boiled galangal.
Whenever I have an opportunity I love to incorporate ingredients from the wild in my cooking. It is July and the forests offer some of the best mushrooms during the summer time, so I went foraging and was lucky enough to find a handful of chanterelle mushrooms. I decided to make ‘Tom Kha Hed Pa’ ต้มข่าเห็ดป่า, which is ‘Tom Kha’ of wild mushrooms.
In this version I’m pounding some of the herbs into a paste, however a lesser effort of adding the pieces of the herbs without pounding them would yield a similar result.
The soup is seasoned with salt and light soy to replace fish sauce as the salts, the sweet comes from a little bit of palm sugar and the natural sweetness of the coconut milk and a squeeze of lime finishes off the soup with sours. If you are used to eating this soup in the west, it is sometimes overly sweetened so try to add less sugar and see if you like the mildly sweet version.
While this soup often contains chicken, other proteins are used in Thailand. In this plant based version, umami flavor can be obtained from, kelp seaweed, miso and soy.
I love ‘Tom Kha’ and already shared in the about page the mark it had left on me.
- 10 seeds white pepper
- 3 tbs lemongrass
- 2 tbs galangal
- 1 tbs makrut lime
- 1 tbs coriander root
- 1 small shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup water
- 1 sheet of kelp seaweed (optional)
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 tbs fermented soy and rice paste (Miso)
- A few galangal slices
- A few torn Makrut leaves
- 1 bruised lemongrass stalk, cut into pieces
- To taste sea salt
- 2-3 tbs coconut sugar
Aromatics and garnishes:
- Lime juice
- Kee nu chili
- 1 tbs light soy
- Coriander leaves
- Makrut lime thinly sliced (chiffonade)
1.Pound the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste. Start by adding first the tougher ingredients, adding each ingredient at a time untile fully incorporated into the paste. Set aside.
2. In a pot, bring the water with a sheet of kelp and miso to a boil. Add the coconut milk and bring again to a boil. Add the paste and dissolve it in the stock. Add pieces of galangal, makrut leaves and lemongrass and simmer to let the herbs diffuse their essential oils. Season with salt to taste and a little bit of coconut sugar. It should be pleasantly salty with a hint of sweetness. Add the mushrooms for the last few minutes of cooking.
3.Squeeze a lime into a serving bowl. Pound to lightly bruise kee nu chilies with a pestle and add them into the bowl. Season with a little bit of light soy.
4.Ladle the soup into the serving bowl. Garnish with Makrut leaves chiffonade and fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.