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Jul. 21, 2008
Thai Day in the Kitchen
Once a month, the Clif Bar R&D team has a culinary education day in which we step outside of our day-to-day product development routine and expand upon our true love for food. This month we had Chat Mingkwan, a local chef and author, come in to teach us a little about Thai cooking.

The menu for the day included Beef and Pork Satay, Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad, Chicken and Mushroom Galangal Soup, Pad Thai with shrimp, Red Curry with Seafood, Coconut Custard with Fresh Mango. Everything was accompanied with Jasmine Rice and Thai Iced Tea.

The R&D team was broken up into groups depending on what we wanted to cook. I was in the Mushroom Galangal Soup (without chicken) group. I have attempted to make a very similar dish to this one at home, but used ginger instead of galangal; every time I made this soup, I couldn’t figure out what was missing. Now I know…galangal!

Turns out galangal is a very important ingredient in Thai cooking and it should not be substituted with ginger when cooking Thai soups. Galangal is a root very similar in appearance to ginger and can be found in most Asian grocery stores. I would recommend using fresh galangal over the powder form.

Due to the addition of galangal, our soup turned out great and it was one of the highlights of the day. And as an added bonus, I got to spend the day in the kitchen cooking food with friends.

Below is Chat’s recipe for Galangal Chicken Soup, Tom Kha Gai just in case you’re interested in trying it out.

You can also check out Chat Mingkwan’s website for more info on Thai cooking.

Now for the recipe...

Galangal Chicken Soup Tom Kha Gai (Serves 6)

Galangal provides such a unique flavor that it cannot be substituted. It is widely available in fresh, dried, and frozen forms in Asian grocery stores. This recipe highlights the best and most popular use of the herb, paring it with coconut milk and chicken meat. The combined aromatic creamy soup with its refreshing sweet and sour taste makes the dish one of the top ten choices of both Thais and lover of Thai food.
  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 6-8 pieces thinly sliced fresh galangal kha, about 2 x 2-inch

  • 2 stalks lemongrass ta-krai, cut into several 2-inch-long pieces and bruised

  • 5 whole kaffir lime leaves bai makrood

  • 1/4 cup diced shallot, 1/4-inch cubes

  • 2 cups diced boneless chicken breast, 1/4-inch cubes (1 pound)

  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms of your choice, bite-size pieces (1 pound)

  • 2 cups coconut milk kati

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce nam pla, more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon chicken base or bouillon cube

  • 1/4 cup lime juice, more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai chilies, more or less to taste

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

  • 1/4 cup very thinly sliced green onion (green and white parts) for garnish

In a pot, bring the stock to a boil and then add the galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves. Cook until the broth is reduced to 1/2-1/4 the original volume, about 20-25 minutes. Discard the solid herbs or leave them in for a stronger flavored stock. Add the shallot, chicken, and mushrooms; cook until the chicken is done, about 3-5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and chicken base. Bring the mixture to a boil one more time and remove from the heat. Just before serving, add the lime juice and Thai chilies (over boiled or cooked lime juice will mar its refreshing taste). Adjust the taste with more fish sauce and lime juice. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with the cilantro and green onion before serving.
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Food Matters, From the Kitchen

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