Light Tom Kha Gai

February 14, 2009 at 6:47 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, My brain, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Tofu)

This version of Tom Kha Gai is vegetarian, and very light on the coconut milk.  Derek objected to calling it Tom Kha Gai (because it doesn’t have enough coconut milk), but I think it’s close enough.  If you want a more authentic version of this traditional Thai soup, simply reduce the water and increase the amount of coconut milk.

In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for 15 minutes:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 bouillon cube
  • 15 quarter-sized slices fresh unpeeled ginger (about 30 grams)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 10 wild lime leaves or wide strips of lime zest from one lime
  • 1 ounce of fresh lemongrass stalks, smashed with a heavy pestle, and cut into pieces that fit in your pan

Strain the soup, or use tongs to remove the flotsam.  Return the broth to the pan.  Add and cook for another 5 minutes longer:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 8 oz firm tofu, cut into bite-sized squares
  • 6 oz fresh, small button mushrooms, quartered (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • instead of mushrooms, I sometimes add ribbons of a fresh green, often bok choy.
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4? tsp. salt (it despends on how salty your bouillon cube and soy sauce are)
  • 1/2? tsp. brown sugar (maybe 1 tsp.)

Remove the pan from the heat and add:

  • juice of 1 lime (about 2? Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (optional)
  • slices of hot red chilis (optional)
  • bean sprouts (optional)

Serve hot.  Makes 4 large bowls or 6 small bowls.

Rating: B


  1. Erica R. said,

    Excellent! I added dried ginger since I didn’t have as much fresh ginger. But came out very good! I could just keep eating it. I also used chicken broth instead. Its what was in the cupboard 🙂

  2. What to do with a lot of lemon or lime zest? | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] light tom kha gai/ […]

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