By Tracey Ceurvels, contributing writer
Galangal… the word rolls off the tongue nicely. But what is it exactly? This root is related to and resembles ginger, although there is little similarity in taste. It is popular in Thai and other Southeast Asian cooking. It’s often referred to as the “spice of life” because of its many health benefits.
More floral and intense than its pungent cousin ginger, galangal pairs well with lime, lemongrass and coconut, which is why I added it to this chicken coconut soup. Although the stars of this dish are the lemongrass and coconut, the galangal adds a nice perfume dimension.
Chicken Galangal Coconut Soup
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chili, chopped
1 small piece of dried galangal
1 lemongrass stalk, sliced into sticks and crushed
1 teaspoon red Thai curry paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups coconut milk
Fish sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 scallions, sliced
2 chicken breasts, sliced
12 shiitake caps, cut into strips
Make the soup
Sauté onions, garlic, chili, galangal, lemongrass and curry paste in peanut oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add coconut milk, chicken breast, shiitakes. Season with fish sauce (a very small amount—about a teaspoon) and lime juice. Cook until chicken is done. Divide in bowls. Garnish with scallions and serve with rice if desired.