At present there are 300 Jews living in Thailand, all in Bangkok. Although the first documented Jew in Thailand was in the early 17th century, the present Jewish community established its earliest roots in 1890 when the Rosenberg family migrated to Thailand and established modern hotels in the country. There are three synagogues in Bangkok—Sephardic, Ashkenazic and a Chabad house that is frequented by thousands of Jewish tourists every year. This chicken soup- based Thai soup is my homage to the tolerant, accepting Thai people who have always welcomed our people.
Tom Kah Gai-Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Soup
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1 scallion, finely minced
2 three-inch pieces of dried lemongrass or 1 fresh stalk cut into 4 pieces
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
½ Serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 piece dried galangal root or ½ inch slice of fresh ginger root
4 cups water
½ pound boneless chicken breast sliced into ¼ by 3 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, drained
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce or Nam Pla fish sauce
Juice from ½ lime
4 –6 ounces wide, rice stick noodle (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat a 4-quart saucepan or soup pot over high heat for 20 seconds. Add the oil and heat for another 20 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium high and add the garlic, scallion, lemongrass, pepper, curry paste, Serrano pepper, kaffir leaves and galangal root. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until the seasonings are fragrant. Add the water and bring to a boil.
- Place the sliced chicken in a small bowl and lightly toss with the cornstarch to coat well. Add the chicken to the pot of soup. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the chicken in the soup for 4 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
- Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cilantro and noodles and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
- If using noodles, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the noodles and stir constantly for 1 minute to prevent sticking together. Drain in a colander and then rinse with cold water.Add the noodles to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes until the noodles are thoroughly swollen and the soup is slightly reduced.
- Serve in soup bowls garnished with some chopped cilantro.
Yield: 2 quarts
- Most, if not all, of the ingredients are available in local supermarkets throughout the country.
- Read the (very) fine print on the Thai red curry paste jar. Although most jarred paste is neutral (pareve), some follow the original recipe and contain 5 % shrimp paste.