Tom Yum Gai Soup

From Ching Li

2016 Mar/Apr


  • 4 c. water
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 3/4”piece of galangal, sliced and crushed
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, center stem removed
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 4 dried red chiles
  • 2 shallots, unpeeled
  • 3 T. fish sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs Thai basil, leaves roughly chopped
  • lime wedges


In a pot, bring the water and chicken to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and add the galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Slice the ends off the lemongrass, leaving about 12 inches. Crush the lemongrass to release the essentials oils, then add it to the pot with the chicken and simmer as you prepare the chiles and shallots.

Roast the chiles and unpeeled shallots on the stove over low heat. It will take about 30 seconds for the chilies to turn brown and fragrant. Remove the chiles, set them aside and continue to brown the shallots until they turn soft and the peel is burnt. Cut off the root and tip and remove the burnt peel. Add the shallots to the soup pot.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot, shred it into small pieces, and return to the pot. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste and adjust accordingly – the broth should have a good balance of sour and savoury. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Crush the toasted chiles and sprinkle them on the soup. Garnish with cilantro and basil and serve with lime wedges.
Serves 4.