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View Full Version : Tom Kha Soup, where have you been all my life?


Unintentionally Blank
09-05-2009, 09:24 AM
So the wife and I tried a little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant in Blaine Washington. The decor was worn, with evidence of the previous restaurants that had resided in that building, but the food was FANTASTIC.

The wife had a seafood Tom Kha soup that was to die for, and something we'd never had before.

So we went home to Parker and looked up the local Indian restaurant, and tried it there, too. Also FANTASTIC.

Going a bit further, we purchased some canned soup (Thai Kitchen brand), with low expectations. Another Stunning find.

I've been a food nut for nearly 40 years and it's rare that I find something new and unique, so it was a nice find.

My only question is: The canned soup came with a bunch of inedible lemongrass and ginger root pieces you're to pull out before eating...leaving a mini corn or two, a slice of something spinachlike, and a slice of mushroom or two.

Is the expectation that you're to add your own stuff to the soup? I don't recall the soup at the restaurants having a lot of lemongrass, but it may have been removed before the bowl reached the table.

Wendell Wagner
09-05-2009, 10:08 AM
Tom kha gai is actually native to Laos and Thailand, but if you find it in an Indian restaurant, that's fine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_kha_gai

don't ask
09-05-2009, 10:43 AM
Wow people in the US eat canned Thai food. I don't think I have ever seen any in Australia. Canned sauces like with Indian and Italian but not Asian soups.

Johnny L.A.
09-05-2009, 10:43 AM
I discovered tom kha gai a couple of decades ago. I've never had it out of a can (didn't even know it existed that way), and every bowl I've had at Thai restaurants has had lemon grass and ginger root in it. Some of them gets eaten, the rest get left in the bowl.

Wendell Wagner
09-05-2009, 11:11 AM
I've never seen canned Thai food of any kind in the U.S. I suspect that's it's pretty rare. I suspect that it's available but just as rare in Australia.

Unintentionally Blank
09-05-2009, 11:13 AM
Well, there's an asian section with this, Wonton and Hot and Sour soups, rice paper wrappers, etc.

I was overjoyed when they brought in Udon noodles.

Wendell Wagner
09-05-2009, 11:23 AM
What store and location is this?

Unintentionally Blank
09-05-2009, 11:27 AM
King Soopers/ kroger in denver, Colorado.

Kolga
09-05-2009, 11:53 AM
What a coincidence. I had Tom Kha Gai for dinner last night. Every time I've ever had it, it had bits of lemongrass, ginger root, and kaffir lime leaves, as well as chicken, mushrooms, onions, coconut milk, and chicken broth. I have never seen it canned, but you can bet I'll be looking for it in my King Soopers now!

Based on your description of the canned soup, I would probably add more mushrooms, and some sauteed onions and diced chicken.

Unintentionally Blank
09-05-2009, 12:01 PM
Yeah, we added shrimp last night, but suspect the next time we'll also add scallops.

guizot
09-05-2009, 12:16 PM
Wow people in the US eat canned Thai food. I don't think I have ever seen any in Australia. Canned sauces like with Indian and Italian but not Asian soups.

I've never seen canned Thai food of any kind in the U.S. I suspect that's it's pretty rare. I suspect that it's available but just as rare in Australia.Trader Joe's (where else?) has a tom yom flavor individual rice bowl (a la Cup o' Noodles, but no need to boil water) for 99 cents. (I just picked one up this morning and will report on the quality shortly.) Amazingly, it seems to have the full range of ingredients--even kaffir lime leaves.

They also sell jars of curry sauce made from some kind of kaeng keow wan, but the ingredients are limited. It seems the one thing you'll never find in "instant" Thai things outside of Thailand is the galanga, which is so essential to the core taste.

Unintentionally Blank
09-05-2009, 02:06 PM
Writing this from the store. I was incorrect, soup was purchased at cost plus world market. :(

Qadgop the Mercotan
09-05-2009, 02:28 PM
Our local weatherman was named Tom Carr, so my daughters were delighted to order a bowl of that "Tom Carr guy" when we went to our local Thai restaurant.

It is such a yummy soup, and I prefer it over Tom Yum.

I've had the canned stuff, it's a little weird with its inedible ingredients in it, but it's not too bad.

I prefer the gai to the goong (chicken vs. shrimp).

Maastricht
09-05-2009, 02:40 PM
It's absolutely delicious, isn't it?
I always have dried packets of Thom Ka soup. To make a very adequate substitute of the real thing, I only have to add water, a can of coconut milk, and some chopped up seafood. For a cheap variant, I use pieces of surimi.

Claire Beauchamp
09-05-2009, 03:37 PM
http://atasteofthai.com/index.php?page=product&action=viewcat&id=7

Easy to find in most well-stocked supermarkets -- better than canned obvs, but saves you from having to find exotic fresh seasonings if they're not common to where you live and you can choose whether to use reg or lite coconut milk, etc.

The Tom Ga Gai I've had in multiple Thai restaurants over the decades are made with lemongrass and galanga (which is a type of ginger) but the chunks are strained out. There are a few thin slices of mushroom and a few slivers of chicken, maybe a kaffir leaf. There's no reason you can't doctor it up with other things or make it more substantial with more meat, etc., but then I daresay it's not Tom Ga Gai.

Girl From Mars
09-05-2009, 05:37 PM
Wow people in the US eat canned Thai food. I don't think I have ever seen any in Australia. Canned sauces like with Indian and Italian but not Asian soups.
Campbells did a range a while ago (not sure if they still sell them) - never tried them. And Trident sell packets which you can make up. Still not as good as the real thing, but good when I can't be bothered making it from scratch.

pulykamell
09-05-2009, 05:38 PM
galanga (which is a type of ginger)

Galangal (which is what "kha" means in "tom kha gai") is a member of the ginger family, (along with turmeric and cardamom), but I wouldn't necessarily call it a type of ginger, as that usually refers to plants of the genus Zingiber, while galangal is Alpinia. It's more like a cousin of ginger.

Anyhow, tom kha should always have galangal in it. If it has ginger, it should be tom khing ("khing" meaning "ginger.") Galangal has a distinct flavor that has some ginger notes in it, but tastes more peppery, and a bit pine or camphor-like.

I love tom kha, but I'm a bigger fan of tom yum, with its simplicity and clean contrast of hot & sour.

guizot
09-05-2009, 08:23 PM
...Galangal has a distinct flavor that has some ginger notes in it, but tastes more peppery, and a bit pine or camphor-like.I think the best way to describe its taste is something like a cross between ginger and mustard.

And for me it's really important that it be fresh. The dried powdered kha is not very flavorful. When your soup or curry is stewing all of the galanga flavor gives it a really distinct taste. I live in Thaitown, so I can always pick some up fresh on the way home from work.

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