Recommended Recipe - Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced and smashed (divided)
- 1 (1-inch) piece of galangal, sliced and smashed (see note)
- 2 tablespoons minced lemon grass (divided)
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced (divided)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1/3 pound chicken breast, diced
- 1 cup straw mushrooms
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 can (13 ounces) Thai coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Sambal oelek to taste (see note)
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Bias-cut green onions
- Toasted coconut curls from fresh coconut, optional
Cover mushrooms with boiling water and steep 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid.
In stockpot, heat chicken stock with kaffir lime leaves, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, the galangal, 1 tablespoon of the lemon grass, 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic, the cilantro, fish sauce and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer gently 30 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid and returning it to pot.
Slice reconstituted shiitake mushrooms thinly. Add to strained stock with raw chicken, straw mushrooms, red pepper and remaining ginger, lemon grass and garlic. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
Add coconut milk and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding sambal oelek and additional Thai fish sauce.
Serve in hot soup cups and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions and, if desired, toasted coconut curls. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Note: Galangal - a milder relative of ginger - and sambal olek - a red paste - are available at the Asian Mart, 1125 N. Old World 3rd St., and other Asian food stores.