Tom Kha Tofu & Spicy Thai Salad
Tom Kha Gai, or Thai Coconut Chicken soup is a very flavorful soup usually made with coconut milk, galangal and lemongrass. I had it the first time in the 80’s at San Francisco’s Thep Lela Restaurant and fell in love. I wanted to try a vegetarian version so opted for Tom Kha Teohu (tofu). Tofu works really well in this dish, which as a main course is a nice but light dinner. I paired it with a Thai inspired salad featuring napa cabbage and other julienned veggies tossed in a spicy Asian style vinaigrette.
I tried to include many substitutions for hard to find ingredients. I don’t think you should have to restock your pantry for one meal, however, if you like Thai or Asian food, many of these ingredients are worth having on hand. I’m sure purists wouldn’t agree with me but I would rather make a great meal with what I have on hand and not worry if it’s not perfect or authentic. I figure my only truly authentic Thai meals will be consumed while on vacation in Thailand surrounded by all the beauty and color of the country. Lime zest and juice can be substituted for kaffir and ginger root or paste for galangal root. Several options are listed for red chili peppers which are fairly seasonal. I would not recommend using lite coconut milk unless you reduce the volume of broth which also reduced your yield. Vegans can use 1 teaspoon salt instead of fish sauce. To make this a more filling dish add more vegetables (snow peas and red bell pepper are good choices). Enjoy!
Tom Kha Tofu
1 can coconut milk
3 cups vegetable broth
6 kaffir lime leaves (or 1 T lime zest and1/8 cup lime juice
4-5 quarter-size slices, peeled fresh galangal or ginger
1 stalk fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
1 container extra firm tofu
2 cups shitake, button or crimini mushrooms
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half circles
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (Optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 red chili pepper, sliced into thin rings, 8-10 dried Thai birds eye peppers or 1 teaspoon Thai chili paste
small bunch fresh basil, leaves only or 1 T dried Thai basil
- Drain the tofu and slice it lengthwise into 8 equal pieces. Place the pieces on a couple of layers of papertowels and cover with a couple more. Press gently to get out water. Set aside.
- Cut the lemongrass into a 6 inch piece, using only the bottom white part. Pound it with the side of a cleaver or mallot to release the flavor. You should be able to smell the lemongrass. Cut into 2 inch pieces and pull apart
- Bring the broth to a boil in a medium stockpot. Add the galangal, lemongrass, sugar and lime. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
- Taste the broth. If it has enough flavor, you can remove the solids with a slotted spoon. Or you can leave them in for added flavor but you will have to warm your guests which items aren’t edible.
- Add the coconut milk, chilies, fish sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
- Taste your broth. If it is too sour, add a bit more sugar. Or you can add salt to taste.
- Add the tofu. Turn down or off until shortly before you are ready to serve.
- Turn the heat to medium, add mushrooms,zucchini and fresh basil leaves and cook about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Spicy Asian Salad
1/2 red bell pepper
3 Green Onions
1/2 Napa cabbage
1 large carrot
1/2 cup slivered almonds toasted in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes or until slightly golden
Slice red pepper and napa cabbage thinly and separate. Julienne carrot(a Cuisinart or mandolin makes it easy). Cut scallions into 2 or 3 inch sections and sliver. Combine all ingredients.
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup rice vinegar
dash sesame oil
1T Soy Sauce
1 tsp .Chili Paste (Optional)
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
1/2 tsp sugar
Combine vinaigrette ingredients and toss with veggies.