If you want to reap all the health benefits of coconut and coconut milk, I highly recommend starting with a raw coconut. I admit, the first time it’s a bit of a challenge to open one and remove its peel, but after that first time, it gets easier. Also, you might start with a young coconut, as they are easier to open.
Canned coconut milk can be used in a pinch, but remember that toxins from the BPA liner can bleed into the contents. I do not recommend lite coconut, as it has lost much of its nutritional value present in the rich coconut oils.
I’ve not yet tested this recipe.
Thai Coconut-Ginger Soup, with Chicken
This recipe is adapted from a can of Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk (1), and serves 3-4 people.
The original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp Thai Kitichen Tom Yum Hot & Sour sauce mix, but that contains ingredients I wish to avoid (such as MSG). The main flavorings in this mix are lemon grass, tamarind (a date-like fruit used in Worcestershire sauce), lime, galangal (a rhizome with a citrus-piney flavor, that can be purchased at Asian markets in powdered form) and chili. As alternative to this mix, I use minced garlic, worcestershire sauce and rice vinegar, in addition to lemongrass and lime juice already listed in the recipe. If you can find the powdered galangal, add it to taste, about 1/4 tsp.
Fish sauce is a common salty seasoning in SE Asian recipes. Straight out of the bottle it is a bit disgusting, but it works magic in the recipe, and adds many health benefits of fermented foods. You could substitute tamari sauce (fermented soya sauce), but it won’t have the same flavor.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 3/4 cup fresh, or 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup rich chicken stock, strained
- 3 stalks lemongrass (cut in half and bruised)
- 6 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1″ piece fresh ginger (peeled, sliced)
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp Rapadura sugar or 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce or powdered tamarind
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (or apple cider or white wine vinegar)
- 1/4 tsp powdered galangal (or to taste; optional)
- 2 Tbsp red chili paste
- 16 oz can straw mushrooms, drained (or 1 pound sliced mushrooms)
- 12 oz boneless chicken (cubed; not pre-cooked); if using breast meat, brine it first
- fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
- 3 quart saucepan or enameled stock pot
- If using chicken breast meat, brine it first, 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry before cutting into cubes.
- Combine coconut milk, chicken broth, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Add worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and chili paste, and stir well. Add mushrooms and chicken cubes.
- Simmer for additional 10 minutes.
- Remove lemongrass and ginger before serving.
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
Assembly or Serving Suggestions
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Arrange two straws of lemongrass like crossed chopsticks over the tureen or each individual bowls.
- Thai Kitchen recipe (thaikitchen.com/Recipes/Soups/Coconut-Ginger-Soup.aspx)
- Wikipedia on Hot and Sour Soup (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_and_sour_soup)
- Thai Food, About recipe: thaifood.about.com/od/thaisnacks/r/hotandsoursoup.htm