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.


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.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Chicken and eggplant is a classic Thai combination. When stir-fried with a curry paste, it makes for an easy meal. This recipe took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I served it with some Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Brown Basmati). So easy.

I used Maesri brand Prik Khing curry paste, which I bought at an Asian market, when I made this. I’m a huge fan of Maesri curry pastes.

Prik Khing Curry Paste

You can use your favorite Thai curry paste. Thai Kitchen makes red and green curry pastes and they are easily found in the ethnic section of some grocery stores. If using Thai Kitchen curry paste, you probably want to reduce the amount of curry paste. I would suggest with starting with 2 teaspoons and going from there if you want it spicier.

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I don’t always have access to fresh Thai basil. When I do get Thai basil, I chop what I don’t use immediately in a food processor and freeze it. I just break off a piece of the frozen Thai basil and add it to my dish while I’m cooking it.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry 3

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

2 tablespoons oil (I used canola, but coconut would be good too)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons Thai curry paste (I used Prik Khing curry paste)
1 large unpeeled Japanese eggplant (or 2 small), sliced (about 1/4-inch) diagonally
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh Thai basil, torn (about a handful)

Heat the oil in a wok (or skillet) over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is just starting to lose it’s pink color. Add the curry paste and stir-fry until the chicken is coated. Add the eggplant and bell pepper. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, and the eggplant is cooked to your preference. I like mine tender, but not mushy. Add the Thai basil and take off the heat. Serve with hot rice.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry 2

Pad Thai II

Pad Thai II

I love Pad Thai. When I go to a new (to me) Thai restaurant, I will usually order Pad Thai. It’s kind of a boring order, but I feel that if a restaurant can do Pad Thai well, then other dishes will be good too. We actually don’t go out to eat very often, so when I’m craving Pad Thai, I usually make it myself. This has been my go-to Pad Thai recipe for years. It’s fine, but it just doesn’t taste like any Pad Thai I get at a restaurant. I can do better. I have decided that I am going to master Pad Thai this summer. A girl has got to have goals. : )

I adapted/simplified this version from a recipe for Thai Noodles in Victor Sodsook’s True Thai. It’s good, a little on the sweet side, but good. So good that I have made it twice this month. The ingredients are fairly easy to find, although I’m not sure how authentic of an ingredient ketchup is. Once the ingredients for this dish are prepared and assembled, it comes together quickly.

Pad Thai II

8 ounces dried flat rice noodles (bahn pho)
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound chicken breast, sliced
5 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
fresh cilantro, chopped

crushed peanuts
chile pepper flakes
fresh bean sprouts
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime wedges

Soak the rice noodles in very hot water until they are soft, about 15 minutes. When they are ready, drain in a colander and set aside until ready for use.

Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and chili powder (if using). Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

Have all the ingredient ready and within reach. This dish comes together quickly once the cooking begins.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turning the wok to make sure the oil coats the bottom. Add the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Transfer to a clean bowl or plate. Wipe out the wok (It doesn’t have to be super clean, I just quickly wipe the wok out using a paper towel) Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok and then add the sliced chicken and cook until no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to the bowl or plate with the shrimp. Again, wipe out the wok.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly, about 30 seconds. Add lightly beaten eggs. Cook the eggs, stirring to scramble them, until they are set. Pour the prepared sauce mixture into the wok. Add the reserved softened noodles, tossing gently in the sauce. Cook until the noodles are tender and have absorbed the sauce, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooked chicken and shrimp and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve. Have the crushed peanuts, chile pepper flakes, bean sprouts, additional chopped cilantro, and lime wedges on the table so everyone can add their desired condiments.

Adapted from True Thai by Victor Sodsook (William Morrow and Company, 1995).


Keaw Wan Kai (Chicken Curry)

From September 28, 2005: I made this Thai green curry last night and fell in love with it.  It’s absolutely amazing!  It’s as good (if not better) than anything you can get at a Thai restaurant.  It’s also very simple to make and fast to prepare.   Adjust the spice level to your tastes.  Remember, it is easier to add more heat than to take it away.  I served the curry with basmati rice because I like it better than jasmine rice.  It is also faster to cook and not as sticky.

I wasn’t able to find Thai eggplants, but  was lucky enough to find (purple) Indian eggplants at a local grocery store for a real bargain……8 little eggplants for 56 cents!  If you can’t find Thai eggplant (or Indian), substitute regular eggplant (cut into large cubes…use about 2 large handfuls).

Keaw Wan Kai (Chicken Curry)

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons green curry paste (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
8 small Thai eggplants, quartered
3 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned very thinly
12 fresh Thai basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
red chili, thinly sliced

In a mortar, pound the fresh cilantro leaves.

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan until very hot.  Add the pounded cilantro leaves and fry for 1 minutes.  Add the curry paste, coriander and cumin, and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until an arome develops.  Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, a little at a time.  Allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken and cook until cooked thorugh.

Add the Thai eggplants, sugar, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil leaves.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until eggplant is tender.  Sprinkle with more Thai basil leaves and sliced chili (if desired)and serve.

To make a vegetarian version of this recipe, substitute 4 ounces of tofu for the chicken.  Add 2 ounces small broccoli florets and 8 pieces of baby corn, quartered lentghwise.  Use light soy sauce instead of the fish sauce and prepare the dish as above.

Recipe adapted from Madame Pa’s Chicken Curry recipe in The Blue Elephant Cookbook by John Hellon (Pavilion, 1999).

Thai Curried Chicken and Bok Choy – Gai Galumblee

This is an easy and tasty Thai curry.  I got the bok choy, fresh galangal, and curry paste (I used red curry) from an Asian market.  Some curry pastes are hotter than others.  Start off with a small amount and check to heat level.  It’s easier to add heat than to take it away.

Thai Curried Chicken and Bok Choy – Gai Galumblee

1/2 tsp.  peppercorns
1  handful of cilantro, leaves and stems
1/4  teaspoon salt
3  boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (14  ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1-inch piece of fresh glangal, peeled and minced (1/2  teaspoon ground galangal or ground ginger maybe substituted)

3  cups chopped bok choy
2  tablespoons curry paste  (red or green)
1  tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1  teaspoon brown sugar (preferred palm sugar)
1  tablespoon lime juice
Thai chiles (for serving)
steamed rice (for serving)

Using a mortar and pestle, grind salt, peppercorns, galangal, and cilantro leaves and stems until they become a paste.

Slice chicken into 2-inch strips.

Heat wok over med-high heat.  Add coconut milk, cilantro paste, and chicken.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook, simmering until chicken is cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Add the bok choy and cook until it is crisp-tender, about 10-12 minutes, or to taste.

In a bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (except chillies and rice) until they are smooth.  Add to wok and stir well.

Serve with sliced Thai chillies over steamed rice in a bowl.

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.

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

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I got this recipe from my mom a few years ago and never got around to making it until this week.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try it….this dish is delicious!  It is also very easy to make and quite quick to prepare.  The end product not only tastes wonderful, it is also pleasing to look at with all the vibrant colors.   This recipe will no doubt be one I will make again and again.

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, chilled
11/2 to 2 teaspoons Thai green or red curry paste
1 pound medium shrimp (about 24), shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons naam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 carrots, sliced thin crosswise
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
3/4 pound spinach (about 1 bunch), coarse stems discarded and the leaves washed well and spun dry
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Cooked rice or rice noodles as an accompaniment

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the thick coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk and in a large heavy skillet cook the cream over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is thickened slightly.   Add the curry paste and cook the mixture, whisking, for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp and sauté the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.  Add the coconut milk and the naam pla and simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute, or until the shrimp are just cooked through.  Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl, to the skillet add the carrots and the bell pepper, and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes.  Add the spinach in batches, stirring until each batch is wilted, return the shrimp to the skillet, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the dish with the coriander and serve it with the rice or rice noodles.