Tom Kha is a delicious Thai soup flavoured with galangal, lemon grass, chilli, lime and coconut milk. It’s a mild creamy version of “Tom Yam” and is normally made with chicken and mushrooms. I’ve used these flavours to make a risotto, I first had something similar to this at Chiang Dao Nest, great food in the mountains in Chiang Dao! I’ve taken the risotto one step closer to a Thai dish by topping it with crispy Thai herbs and spices, inspired by Café de Nimman Restaurant in Chiang Mai. It’s really tasty and healthier than a butter, cheesy risotto, I’d highly recommend giving it a go. This will make 3-4 portions depending how much you eat.
I started by making my “Tom Kha” stock. In a pan I put a small onion, the trimmings from my mushrooms, a few coriander roots,, a few cloves of crushed garlic, three crushed lemongrass stems, a crushed piece if galngal, a few torn kaffir lime leaves and a couple of (not too spicy) chillies and a tsp of light (mushroom) soy sauce. I added over a liter of water and brought this to the boil and then simmered it for 30 mins. The stock will give off a great fragrance.
Next in a thick-bottomed, deep-sided frying pan (with a lid preferably) I fried a medium sized chopped onion in some coconut oil for a couple of minutes then added a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, a sliced large red chilli (or two), and 300g of mushrooms (I use eryncii & buna shimeji but other mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms would work well too). I fried these all together for a few minutes then added a splash of light (mushroom) soy sauce. Then I added 200g of rice (I use Japanese rice for risottos as it’s easier to find, and cheaper, than Italian rice here in Thailand. I (fried the rice until it became translucent and then I poured in some of my hot stock to cover the rice completely and then added 150 mls of coconut milk. I brought this to the boil then covered it with a lid and simmered it stirring every 5 minutes and adding more hot stock. Traditionally with risotto you don’t cover it and stir in more or less constantly I think this is to release as much starch from the rice as possible, but for this dish I don’t find that necessary. It will take about 20 minutes for the rice to cook. In the meantime I prepared some Thai herbs and spices to garnish my dish and steamed some green beans, the beans add a nice crunch to the dish. I finely sliced the more tender insides of three lemongrass stems lengthways, julienned a large red chilli, sliced 3 cloves of garlic and tore a few kaffir lime leaves.In a wok with some hot oil I started by frying the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, as they take a little longer, after about a minute I added the chilli, garlic and a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts and fried everything until it was golden and crisp and then drained them. You can use large dried chillis instead, of the fresh one, which will go crisp and can be crumbled on the risotto for an extra kick of spiciness (these don’t take long to cook so add them near the end of the frying process.)
When the risotto rice is cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated I added a couple of chopped spring onions and some chopped coriander and the juice of a lime and turned off the heat and stirred this in. Add half the lime and taste it before adding it all, at this point you add a bit more lime or more soy sauce if necessary. Try to get a balance of flavours it should be fragrant from the herbs with a mild taste of chilli and not be too sweet (from the coconut) or sour (from the lime).
I put the green beans in the bottom of my serving bowls and then put the risotto on top and then garnished with the crispy herbs and nuts, you can also sprinkle some coriander on top too if you like.