Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cooking Adventures

Thursday evening I took an Asian cooking class at the SLC Sur la Table. We learned so many great recipes, but I mostly wanted to take the class to get a great recipe for Tom Ka Gai (Thai chicken/coconut milk) soup and gyoza (Japanese version of Chinese pot stickers).

So today I headed off to the Asian market to get the ingredients for the soup -- which  is my all-time favorite Thai dish. Many of the items can't be found at the grocery store, and most of the others are cheaper if you buy them at an Asian market.

Most of the ingredients in the picture are easily identified, except for the galangal (below of chicken broth)  and kaffir lime leaves (below the can of coconut milk). The only ingredients I didn't include in the photo are the chicken, salt and pepper.

The soup is incredibly easy to make. If only I'd known -- I would have learned to make it years ago. It actually took longer to find the ingredients in the Asian market than to make the soup.

Here's the finished product.

It tastes just like what you get at a good Thai restaurant. The only thing I would do differently is add more chicken than the recipe called for, and probably add some other veggies besides the mushrooms to make it a bit more substantial and filling.

The recipe for Tom Ka Gai soup, serving 4:

1-1/2 cups coconut milk (stir well)
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
10 slices fresh or frozen galangal (pieces are each about the size of a quarter)
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed, roughly chopped and crushed
6 to 8 wild lime leaves (makrut), torn into pieces
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs,or both), cut into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces
1 cup mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
zest from 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (Three Crabs brand)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
one thinly sliced chili pepper (thai, jalapeno or serrano), optional

Combine the coconut milk and chicken broth in a large saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the galangal, lemon grass, wild lime leaves and lime zest. Simmer for 10 minutes. NOTE: If you don't want to eat around the galangal and lemon grass, you can strain it out at this point. Or, gather loosely into a 12-inch square piece of cheese cloth, tie it closed and simmer in the broth; remove before serving.) Add the chicken and mushroom pieces. After I squeezed the juice from the lime halves, I added the lime rinds to the broth while the chicken and mushrooms cooked. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle  into serving bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and chilies. Serve as is, or with a scoop of hot jasmine rice.  Just delicious!

BTW,  I've decided on the last 3 squares for my Family in Stitches sampler. One square will be dedicated to John Billington, my Mayflower ancestor. One square will pay homage to Elijah Kingsley, one of my 5th great grandfathers who was a Minuteman in the Revolutionary War. And one square will  be dedicated to either King Henry II of England or his son John Lackland. (Yes, I am descended from royalty!) King Henry is my grandfather 24 generations back, making him a 22nd-great grandfather.  Who would have thought that the mother of a humble Idaho dairy farmer (my mom's father) descended from a King of England.


Deb said...

That soup sounds wonderful - I can almost taste it from here. I think that I'm definitely going to have to try it out. How fun to take cooking lessons!

LiahonaGirl said...

I highly recommend the soup. I'll be eating leftovers today. I hope it reheats well and that the flavor even improves on day 2.

This was the first cooking class I've taken -- mostly because I wanted to better understand how to use these Asian ingredients. They are offering a cheese-making class in April and hope that my work travel schedule doesn't take me out of town that day. I've made simple cheese (farmer cheese, and used it like ricotta), but I really want to learn how to make mozzarella, which is one of the cheese we'll make in the class. I'd like to learn to make cottage cheese as well. Both of my grandmothers made it, but my parents never paid attention to how they did it.


Jandi said...

Wow! Look delicious!

Linda said...

I love Thai food. The soup looks delicious. thanks for sharing the recipe, i'm going to try it. Now tell me, what is galagal?
I go to the local LDS FHC, but can never get as far back as you've gotten with your ancestry. How on earth did you do that?

Linda said...

I love Thai food. The soup looks delicious. thanks for sharing the recipe, i'm going to try it. Now tell me, what is galagal?
I go to the local LDS FHC, but can never get as far back as you've gotten with your ancestry. How on earth did you do that?

LiahonaGirl said...

Hi Linda.
Galangal looks like ginger root, but has a slightly different flavor. You'd probably have to find it at an Asian market. I know it's available in dried form online if you can't find it locally. I bought enough for 3 recipes and chopped it and froze the extra (just like I do with fresh ginger). I'm going to add a bunch of snow pea pods, more mushrooms and maybe some shrimp the next time I make the soup.

I can't take credit for the genealogy work -- that goes to my parents. They have been doing it for years and years (I need them to teach me how to do it). They've been successful getting back really far with a few lines -- but some of the lines simply dead end.

Good luck with your family history research -- it is totally fascinating.

Linda said...

I should be able to get galagal without any trouble. Even our traditional stores carry many unusual ethnic ingredients. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the info.
I need to get back to the ancestry work. All the old people in the family are gone now, so it's important, I'm sure you agree.

LiahonaGirl said...

I definitely agree! You soon get to the point that you actually know these long departed ancestors. And I think you learn more about yourself in the process.


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