Thai Comfort Food: Tom Kha Goong

This is Galangal. Galangal is a root in the ginger family. But don’t call galangal, ginger. It’s definitely different. Unique. Special. You are not going to find it at every grocery store like you can ginger. I was fortunate and found this fresh galangal at Central Market.


Ginger is practically a household word. Galangal is not an ingredient you go throwing around in casual culinary conversation. People will look at you funny, unless of course, they know Thai food. That’s because galangal is the root used to flavor most authentic Thai soups, including this one: Tom Kha Goong or Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup. I always thought that was ginger. I was wrong. My taste buds should have tipped me off. Galangal is earthy and mellow in distinct contrast to the peppery sharpness of ginger. It is cozy and warm. On the day I made this wonderful soup, it was rainy and cold – perfect weather to wrap myself up in some rich, creamy, fiery Thai food.

Tom Kha Goong



  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half (or 1 heaping tbsp of shredded)
  • 1 lemon grass (white part only), crushed
  • 1 lemon grass (white part only), sliced diagonally 1″
  • 1 inch galangal, sliced thinly
  • 12 fresh salt water shrimp, shelled and cleaned, leaving the tail intact
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 Tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Sambal or Sriracha sauce
  • 2-3 dried red chili peppers, lightly crushed


Heat the chicken broth in a pot over medium heat. Add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal; simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, chilis and sambal; increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

Add the mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce and shrimp to the pot. Reduced heat to medium and cook uncovered for another 5-7 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm to the touch.

Remove soup from heat and immediately serve in individual bowls.

Serves 4


  1. This recipe is a riff on this recipe by Sugar & Everything Nice
  2. I used Organic Lite Coconut Milk, Thai Kitchen brand
  3. If you cannot find fresh kaffir lime leaves, use jarred. It’s not the best, but it will do. I found jarred kaffir lime leaves at Whole Foods. They were shredded so I improvised the amount.

Mangia Bene!

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