From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Best Part Was...

Whew… Back in the saddle after a week of vacation, living it up on the Carnival Conquest. What a ride, and what an experience. If you have yet to go on a cruise, try to do so while it is still (relatively) inexpensive.

The best part for me? The food. All of it. And boy-howdee, there was a lot of it. More than I can remember meal for meal. My favorite? The duck breast. The crème brulee. The prime rib. The sushi. The filet mignon. The lobster tail. The grilled shrimp. The tiramisu. And the list goes on, and on, and on… amazing…

The beauty of the dining experience was that there was no limit to what I could have indulged myself on, so, multiple appetizers, multiple entrees, multiple desserts? No problem. Sign me up. All that hard work I did to lose all that weight before the cruise? This was why. Mwah ha haaaa…..

I was disappointed with the fact that I forgot to bring my camera with me to dinner, because the presentation was amazing, as well as the taste. (Plus, a post enjoyment picture lacks the impact of the pre-eaten view…)

But the best part of ALL the meals: getting David to eat (AND ENJOY) a Tom Kha Gai. It was served as an appetizer (which I paired with some sushi) and it was so good, I ended up asking for a second bowl. Our server was more than happy to oblige, and he brought two bowls out, one for me, and one for David. I could see that he was a bit (okay, VERY) skeptical about the soup, as he had the notion in his head that because it was made with coconut milk, that it was going to be sweet. Well, let me tell you, there was nothing sweet about the soup. The Tom Kha Gai that we enjoyed was a delicious combination of coconut milk, chicken, lemongrass and mushroom with a dash of chili oil for heat on the top. And HE LIKED IT!!! Wow… I am still surprised… but happy for him. David did a lot of eating outside of his comfort zone last week, and I was happy to see that, as a general rule, he enjoyed most of the food.

In Jamaica, we had real jerk chicken, and jerk pork, and Red Stripe beer, with lots of Appleton Rum.

In Cozumel, real Mexican food, with fish tacos, chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce, and rice.

I was a bit saddened to return to dry land, as, by the end of the cruise, I had still not had a chance to try the sushi bar, or the chocolate buffet, but I guess that those experiences will have to wait for the next cruise. Alaska anyone?

I am going to have to cook up a batch of my Tom Kha Gai and see if the family likes it. If not, oh well, more for me. The key to making a successful Tom Kha Gai is to be sure to not overwhelm the flavor and texture with heat. A balance between the spices is very important. This soup brings with it a large following, and it is very popular with both Thais and people visiting the country of Thailand. Some of the primary spices that are added include onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, lime juice, fish sauce, chilies and soy sauce. A mortar and pestle is the best tool to mix the seasonings together.

The addition of coconut milk, as well as coconut juice will allow the soup to thicken, as well as become creamier and a bit sweeter. For additional variation, an addition of shrimp to the mix, but only 1/5 the amount of chicken can be used to supplement the dish.

So now, back on the wagon. Back to the stove.

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

Thai Chicken Soup in Coconut Milk (Tom Kha Gai)

Ingredients for Tom Kha (for four people):

 400g Chicken Breast (skinned)

 4 Pieces of Ginger (sliced thinly)

 1 Stick of Lemongrass (cut diagonally and crushed)

 1 Bunch of Thai Coriander

 5 Kaffir Lime Leaves (shredded)

 5 Red Thai Chilies

 5 Thai shallots (crushed)

 1 Cup of Coconut Cream

 1 Can of Coconut Milk

 3 Teaspoons of fresh Lime Juice

 2 Teaspoons of Fish Sauce

 1 Can of Straw Mushrooms

Cooking Time: 15 to 20 minutes.


1. Remove any fat from the chicken and slice it thinly.

2. Empty the coconut milk into the pan and bring it to the boil. Then add the lemongrass, shallots, coriander root, galangal and shredded kaffir leaves. Add the sliced chicken and simmer over a low-medium heat. Season to taste.

3. Once the chicken is cooked, add the coconut cream and stir into the soup. Once it returns to the boil, turn off the heat.

4. Finally add the red Thai chillies, coriander, fresh lime juice and fish sauce.

5. Serve hot as a starter or a tasty accompaniment to the main meal.

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