Flashback: Tom Kah Goong, Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp | Crooked Kitchen

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Flashback: Tom Kah Goong, Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp

August 07, 2009 By: Matt Category: Flashback, Food

This is part of a series of posts I’m bringing back from my previous food blog. The topics might not be as focused, but I think they still deserve to be republished in a current forum. Enjoy this post from 2006 about Tom Kah Goong.

tomkahgoong Flashback: Tom Kah Goong, Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp

Tonight I made Tom Kah Goong, Thai coconut soup with shrimp. This was the first Thai food I ever ate, in a Thai restaurant back home that took over the space of the Chinese restaurant that I used to go to. It’s basically a broth made with coconut milk, chicken broth, galangal, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. I didn’t have any galangal or lime leaves, so I used ginger, extra lemongrass, and lemon juice. After the broth had simmered for a while, I added straw mushrooms and shrimp, and the soup was ready to eat.

This was not only the first Thai dish I attempted to cook (Thai Kitchen instant noodles don’t count), but also the first time I successfully used fish sauce. The last time was in an omelette meant to go on top of ramen, but that whole operation was botched. The first time, I made egg drop soup, but botched the addition of the egg so that the soup became creamy instead of giving me strands of scrambled egg. I added fish sauce to that, and it ended up smelling and tasting like cat food.

Anyway, I gritted my teeth and started pouring fish sauce into the soup, eyeballing 2 tablespoons. Very quickly, there was a strong pungent odor that wasn’t all too pleasant, but wasn’t like the cat food odor I encountered before. I wonder if I upset the people downstairs with the strong smell, who were watching TV and eating pizza. I tasted the broth at that point, and didn’t notice any unpleasant pungent or fishy taste. It did exactly what it was supposed to: fill out the flavor with some body, and add salt.

The combination of hot, sour, salty, and sweet flavors was very nicely matched. The shrimp were a little big; slightly smaller shrimp would have been easier to eat. I garnished the soup with cilantro and sliced chiles before I ate it. It was the kind of meal that’s so tasty that even though I was dying from the chiles, I keep eating them because it was all so good.

1 Comments to “Flashback: Tom Kah Goong, Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp”


  1. Very nice! Fish Sauce sure is a strange ingredient! I dread using it in my curries for the same reason you mentioned, but it really does add nice flavor. The trick is to buy the highest quality fish sauce you can find, and one way to judge it is by color. Dark fish sauce is lower in quality than lighter sauces.

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