Tom Kha: Thai Seafood Coconut Curry!

Tom Yum is the most popular soup in Thai cuisine and enjoyed for its spicy and tangy flavors. But the lesser known Tom Kha is equally delightful. This soup is unique with galangal and coconut milk dominating the flavors. Its primarily served as a seafood soup with some variations in Thailand made with Chicken or pork too. You could use a single fish or a mix of different sea foods to make this recipe.

If using fish, you could either fry the pieces and then add to the soup or poach it in the fragrant broth.  The fish is usually removed and cut into small pieces for serving.

I prepared this recipe more as a curry to be served with rice. I used an entire White Bass fish chopped into steaks along with its head, as my daughter enjoys fish heads. She does have a peculiar food preference.

Tom Kha or Thai Seafood Coconut Curry is made by simmering lemongrass and galangal in coconut milk to extract the exotic flavors. Other aromatics are added to achieve the right balance of taste. Fish pieces go in last and soak up the flavors.

This thai curry is very different from the usual restaurant staple red, green and yellow curries. The simplicity of this recipe and balance of flavors is what gives its signature mind blowing taste. Fresh herbs are a must and a good enough reason to head to your local Asian store. And you wont be disappointed. I promise!

  • 1 white bass fish, cut into steaks, with fish head
  • 1 inch piece galangal, julienne
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 lime leaves, chopped
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 thai chili, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons jaggery/palm sugar (I used jaggery)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari/ fish sauce (I used tamari-its gluten free soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 can coconut milk (60%)

  1. Reserve the thick part of coconut milk which usually collects on the top of the can.
  2. Add the thin part with a cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the galangal and lemon grass and simmer the sauce for 10-15 mins till their flavors are released.
  4. Add the shallots and garlic in it now and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
  5. Pour in the tamari and vinegar.
  6. Add in the chili, jaggery and thick coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  7. Taste to balance flavors and add salt if needed.
  8. Drop in the fish steaks, fish head and the lime leaves.
  9. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  10. The coconut seafood curry is read to be served when the fish is done.
  11. Remove the fish pieces gently and strain the sauce. The amount of galangal and lemon grass crushed onto the sauce was way too much for us to chew on.
  12. Add the fish back to the smooth strained sauce and serve with white rice.

Other Thai recipes you can try are: 
Thai Pumpkin Sweet Potato Curry
Thai Chicken Curry! 


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