'A person who is eating has neither greed nor anger,' goes a zen saying. The partaking of food promotes a harmony within ourselves, as well as with nature and those with whom we share our meal. From the small harmony of a meal at a day's end grows the larger harmony of the family, the community, and all that surrounds. Dinner is served. The whole world is seated.
Sometimes it's better-than-good to shut down the computer, turn off the TV news, and drink in the comfort of a simple bowl of soup. Nothing more needs to be said.
TOM KHA GAI
(CHICKEN AND COCONUT SOUP)
500ml chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
6cm piece fresh lemon grass, chopped and bruised
4cm piece fresh galangal, sliced and bruised
2 bird's eye chillies, sliced
100g chicken tenderloins, sliced into bite sized pieces
100g button mushrooms, sliced
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 2-3 fresh limes
2-3 teaspoons palm sugar syrup
a pinch of sea salt
chilli paste, to serve
Combine the chicken stock and coconut milk in a medium sized saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Place the kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal and chillies into a wide tea infuser or spice egg (or tie them into a piece of muslin, which can be easily removed from the soup) and immerse into the boiling stock and coconut milk in the pan. Simmer briefly, then add the chicken and the mushrooms, simmering gently until the chicken is cooked through. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar syrup and salt, then check for flavour and add a little more lime juice, palm sugar or salt if required. Remove the tea infuser, spice egg or muslin. Ladle the soup into bowls, along with the chicken slices and mushrooms, and serve with a dash of chilli paste. Serves 4.
Tom Kha Gai is a soup I've been making for decades. Over the years I have adapted recipes from Charmaine Solomon and David Thompson, to come up my with own version, which includes the use of palm sugar syrup as well as fresh mushrooms. I love the hot, salty, sour and sweet combination of the ingredients. There is true harmony here.
Tell me dear readers, do you find comfort in a bowl of soup?
Drink in the comfort of a simple bowl of soup...
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.