Som Chai, my Thai restaurant in Bali, tells cultural stories through recipes: coming from the late 19th Century to the table, here is a short story of the “Tom Kha Bpet”
It was a soup…
Tom Kha is originally a type of soup consisting of a spicy chicken-curry in coconut milk.
The soup typically includes coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, coriander (or dill weed), straw mushrooms (or shiitake or other mushrooms), chicken, fish sauce, and lime juice. Fried chilies are sometimes added.
… but in the late 19th Century, it was not anymore !
In the late 19th century, “tom kha” was not a soup at all: it was a dish of chicken or duck simmered in a light coconut broth with a generous amount of galangal. The coconut broth adds sweetness to the meat, and the galangal helped to mellow the meat odor. It was then served with a basic roasted chili jam as a dipping relish seasoned along the salty-sour-sweet spectrum.
Let me take you on a trip to the Ancient Siam
At Som Chai, I introduced this modern version of “Tom Kha”, and invite you to discover its complex flavours, its rich scent and the guilty pleasure to dip the meat in the roasted chilli jam !