Coconut chicken soup is made citrusy by lime, lemongrass and galangal. Galangal may look similar to ginger, but whereas ginger is hot, galangal is cool, and it has a refreshing, almost piney flavour. You don’t need to peel it, but just use the main part of the galangal and not any of the offshoots. You can also freeze galangal: cut it into coins, place separately on a baking sheet, and freeze; once frozen, transfer the coins into a freezer bag.
- 4 oz. (110 g) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece unpeeled galangal
- 4 lime leaves
- 2 red bird’s eye chilies
- 2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) water or chicken stock
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) finely grated or chopped palm sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish
- Slice the chicken into 1/4-inch (6 mm) strips. Set aside.
- Bruise the lemongrass by laying it on the cutting board and whacking on the surface with the dull side of a chef’s knife. Cut into 2 1/2-inch (6 cm) pieces. Cut the galangal into 1/8-inch (3 mm) slices, tear the lime leaves into thirds, and cut the chilies in half, removing the seeds. Set aside.
- Bring the coconut milk and water (or stock) to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, not letting it boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the reserved lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, and chilies. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the chicken, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the chicken, and reduce the heat if the soup starts to boil.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the lemon (or lime) juice, fish sauce and sugar. Serve garnished with the cilantro.