Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Soup)2

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Chef Vatta Baker


From: Homemade Thai by Vatta Baker and Jariyakorn Jittanongsak; Create Space, paperback, $39.99

Homemade Thai is a collection of simple and delicious family recipes that personal chef, Vatta Baker, and her daughter have adapted to fit modern and everyday lifestyles. Baker is a native of Thailand who relocated to the United States in 1990. Her “Cooking at Home with Vatta” provides personal chef services and Thai cooking classes. There will be a book signing, noon-2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22, at Warwicks Book Store in La Jolla.



“Tom Kha is one of the most well-known dishes of Thai cuisine,” says Vatta Baker. “This dish also brings back childhood memories of my mother’s home-cooked meals. It is a delightfully creamy soup with a hint of lime, lemon grass, and galangal root. I have slightly improvised the recipe to suit my lifestyle in the United States by adding half-and half. I think it enhances the texture of the soup and makes it more savory.

Tom Kha Gai 

Approx. 4 servings


2 cups chicken broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 1/2 cups raw chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup galangal root, sliced

1 stem lemon grass, cut into short lengths

3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup half-and-half

5–6 smashed Thai chilies (approx., depending on your spice level)

4 tablespoons lime juice


1. Place chicken broth and coconut milk in a medium cooking pot and bring to a boil for 3–4 minutes.

2. Add chicken and boil 2–3 minutes. Add galangal root and cook an additional 1–2 minutes. Add rest of ingredients and cook an additional 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat.


Optional: Before serving, sprinkle cilantro on soup for fresh flavor. Note: All ingredients can be found at your local Asian market.

Categories: Food & Drink