Chicken soup is cherished worldwide for its deliciousness and ability to make us feel better. It’s not just refreshing but also comforting, making it a beloved dish across various cultures. Beyond its taste, Tom Kha Gai chicken soup offers numerous health benefits, which is why it’s a favorite among people worldwide.
Versatile Chicken Soup
Chicken soup comes in many forms, each with its own unique flavor. Traditionally, it’s made with a clear or pale broth that’s both soothing and nourishing. Whether you’re combating a sinus blockage or simply seeking hydration, chicken soup is often a go-to choice.
The chicken in the soup provides lean protein, aiding muscle recovery and supporting the immune system. Typically, it includes vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions, which contribute essential vitamins and minerals for overall health.
While most chicken soups have a clear appearance and a thick consistency, there are lesser-known variations from different parts of the world. One such exceptional chicken soup hails from Thailand, known as Tom Kha Gai.
Tom Kha Gai: Thailand’s Culinary Gem
According to Taste Atlas, among the top 10 chicken soups rated worldwide, Thailand’s Tom Kha Gai claims the number one spot with an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars. So, what makes Tom Kha Gai so special?
1. A Thai Culinary Delight
Tom Kha Gai is a fragrant and aromatic Thai chicken soup. It’s a classic Thai dish renowned for its deliciousness, suitable for any weather, whether it’s a breezy day or scorching heat.
The name “Tom Kha Gai” reveals its key ingredients. “Kha” refers to galangal, “Gai” means chicken, and “Tom” translates to boiling or boiling point. This tells us that the soup features galangal, a key ingredient that sets it apart.
Taste Atlas explains that Tom Kha Gai originates from northern Thailand with some influence from Laos. While chicken is the classic choice, this soup can also include other proteins like fish or beef.
The broth typically contains ingredients such as galangal, Thai basil, coconut milk, chicken, chicken broth, scallions, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, coriander leaves, and chili peppers. However, variations are possible, with some people using ginger instead of galangal and experimenting with different types of broth.
2. Galangal: The Secret Ingredient
One of the key factors that make Tom Kha Gai extraordinary is the use of galangal. While it may resemble ginger, galangal has a distinct flavor profile. It exudes an exotic aroma reminiscent of pine trees, making it a perfect addition to this soup.
In Tom Kha Gai, galangal is often paired with other aromatic ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, fresh ginger, and lemongrass. What’s interesting is that you don’t need to peel the skin of galangal or ginger for this soup. It’s believed that the skin contains more health benefits than the flesh.
Biomedical expert Kanchan Koya, PhD, from Harvard University, explains that galangal and ginger skin contain twice as many polyphenols as their flesh. These polyphenols have various health benefits, making them a valuable addition to the soup.
In summary, Tom Kha Gai is celebrated for its unique flavors, with galangal playing a crucial role in its aromatic profile. It’s a Thai culinary masterpiece that delights taste buds and offers a delightful blend of flavors and health benefits.