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Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

By Jet Tila

Coconut chicken soup in a pot on stove topCoconut chicken soup in a pot on stove top

Knife used in this recipe:

Classic Vegetable Cleaver knife profile imageClassic Vegetable Cleaver knife profile image


Thai Chicken Stock

Active work time: 10 minutes.

Total preparation time: 1 hour 


  • 1 chicken carcass

  • 8 to 10 cups (1920-2400 ml) water

  • 3/4 to 1 cup (120-240 ml) thinly sliced galangal

  • 6 stalks lemon grass, lower thick portion only, pounded

  • 10 kaffir makrut (Thai) lime leaves

Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) 

Active work and total preparation time: 15 minutes 


  • 4 cups (960 ml) Thai chicken stock (above)

  • 2 (3 ounce, or 85 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes

  • 1 (15-ounce, 425 g) can straw mushrooms, drained

  • 1 to 3 Thai chiles

  • 5 Tbsp (75 ml) fish sauce

  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) lime juice

  • 1 Tbsp    (15 ml) chili paste in soybean oil

  • 1 (14 ounce) (400 ml) can coconut milk (not light)

  • 1 1/2 cups (330 ml) chopped cabbage

  • Kaffir makrut (Thai) lime leaves, for garnish
    Cilantro leaves, for garnish 


Thai chicken stock:

  1. Place the chicken carcass in a stockpot. Add the water, galangal and lemon grass. Roll up the lime leaves and crush them lightly by hand to release more flavor, then add them to the pot.
  2. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Strain. 

Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai):

  1. Bring the Thai chicken stock to a simmer over medium-high heat in large pot.
  2. Add the chicken, mushrooms and chiles and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk and chili paste. Return this to a simmer, then add the chopped cabbage and cook it until just tender, about 1 minute.
  4. Divide among serving bowls and garnish each with 1 to 2 lime leaves and cilantro. 4 to 6 servings.