Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so flavorful. Traditionally, it is not done in the crockpot, but there is no reason why it can’t be. Cooking it in the crockpot is not only easy, but it allows for the flavors to meld as it cooks over several hours. It turns out fantastic! To make it a little more substantial, sometimes we will eat this soup over some cooked rice vermicelli noodles.

This recipe contains several ingredients that may not be easy to find in a regular grocery store. Use this recipe as an excuse to visit an Asian market. I cook so much Thai food that I tend to keep these ingredients on hand.

Galangal: I have rarely been able to find fresh galangal, but I have been able to find it frozen or dried at Asian markets. If you use dried galangal, don’t mince it, instead throw a handful of slices into the soup. Remove the galangal slices (as you would a bay leaf) before serving. If you are unable to get galangal, you may substitute ginger instead.

Galangal

Lemongrass: I am able to find lemongrass at my local Asian market. I will buy a bunch and clean it up and freeze it to use later. I have also seen a lemongrass paste in the produce section of my Publix. I would think 1 tablespoon of the paste could be used instead of minced lemongrass. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can leave it out.

Kaffir Lime Leaves:  These are actually kind of hard to find in any store. This may seem strange, but I buy them on ebay, usually from someone in California that has a kaffir lime tree growing in their yard. They go out and pick the leaves and mail them. The leaves ship well and don’t need to be refrigerated right after picking. Once I get my kaffir lime leaves, I freeze them. They keep forever in the freezer. Lime zest can be substituted for kaffir lime leaves. The flavor isn’t exactly the same, but it is similar.

Sambal Olek:  They actually sell this at Target in the ethnic food section. It is usually right next to the sriracha.

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 (approximately) ounce can coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece galangal, minced (substitute ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1/2 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves, rib removed and julienned (substitute zest of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon sambal olek (or sriracha)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the Thai basil and fresh cilantro in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the Thai basil and fresh cilantro. Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro.

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Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Bamboo Shoots

This is a curry I threw together for lunch today.  It was so easy and delicious.  I used chicken, but any other protein (including tofu) can be used instead.  I found fresh, pre-cut bamboo shoots at the Asian market and used them for my curry.  Fresh bamboo definitely has a more distinct flavor (and aroma) than canned, but the canned bamboo is much easier to find (most grocery stores carry it) and works and tastes fine. Green curry tends to be spicy hot.  You can cut back the amount of curry paste in this recipe to try to tone down the heat level.

I keep a variety of curry pastes and canned coconut milk in the pantry for quick meals.  The Maesri Curry Pastes are so amazing and functional.  There are so many flavors available and directions are on the can (although I always deviate from their instructions…don’t be afraid to experiment).  You can take a can of curry paste, mix it with coconut milk and add any meat and/or veggies you have on hand to make wonderful curries.  Red curry, chicken, and a bag of frozen green beans is a favorite combination of ours.  Great for weeknight dinners.

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Bamboo Shoots

1 can Maeri Green Curry Paste
1 can coconut milk
1 – 2 chicken breast(s), thinly sliced
1 can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1 bell pepper (green or red), seeded and sliced
Fresh Thai basil leaves (to taste)
Fish sauce (optional and to taste)
Sugar (optional and to taste)

Combine the green curry paste and coconut milk in a large pan or wok over medium high heat.  Let the mixture come to a slight boil and then add the sliced chicken.  Let the chicken cook until it is no longer pink and then add the bamboo shoots and bell pepper.  Simmer about 5 minutes (or longer to let the sauce thicken up some).  Stir in the Thai basil and fish sauce and sugar, if using.  Serve with rice or rice noodles.