The fish version of tom kha gai, Thai fish coconut milk soup, or tom kha pla, is similarly cooked and seasoned with lemongrass, galangal, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce.
Tips for the coconut cream:
- If using freshly grated coconut (should be mature, of course), squeeze the coconut without adding water to get pure coconut cream.
- If using canned coconut milk, chill unopened in the fridge for a few hours. Open the can and scoop out the thick cream that floats on top. Use that and discard the liquid underneath.
- If using powdered, dissolve in the least amount of water to make coconut cream.
Tom Kha Pla (Thai Fish Coconut Cream Soup)
For the spice base
- 4 slices galangal (rehydrated if using dried)
- ¼ cup sliced lemongrass (lower portion of the stalk only)
- 2 pairs kaffir lime leaves ribs removed
- 2 shallots peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 bird’s eye chili (add another for more heat)
- 2 tablespoons coriander roots and stems
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar dissolved in a teaspoon of water to make a paste
To make the soup
- lime wedges
- Grind all the solid ingredients in the spice base list. Pour in the fish sauce and diluted coconut sugar slowly to make grinding easier. You don't need to make a paste. You just want to pound everything to small pieces.
- Heat the fish broth in a pot, stir in the spice base, tomato, tied lemongrass and fish sauce to taste. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for ten minutes.
- Slowly pour in the coconut cream and stir. Taste and add more fish sauce, as needed.
- Bring to a gentle boil and allow to cook, uncovered, for five minutes.
- Stir in the fish slices and cook for another five minutes.
- Taste the broth, add more fish sauce, if needed, before stirring in the lime juice.
- Serve your tom kha pla garnished with cilantro.