Tom Kha Pladuk - catfish soup

There are two staple soups in Thai cuisine: tom yam is a hot spicy clear 
soup with elements of sweet and sour flavors added. Tom kha is a milder 
soup with coconut milk and galangal (kha) dominating rather than the 
fiery prik (chili) of the tom yam. 

Because it is milder tom khas are often made with chicken or pork, but 
most common in Thailand are varieties using seafood (especially shrimp, 
squid, or fish such as red snapper or catfish) or vegetables (especially 
medleys of mushrooms, tom kha hed) 

The catfish can be "crisped" by quickly, and briefly, deep frying it in 
very hot oil, but this variation is based on simply poaching the fish in 
the soup. 

In Thailand the fish is cleaned, and then poached whole (with the head), 
then removed from the soup, and cut into bite sized pieces which are 
returned to the soup for serving. The method here is a little simpler, 
in that it doesn't involve handling the hot fish. 

Thais eat the galangal, which is cut into thin matchstick pieces. 
However I have noticed that many western diners prefer to discard the 
galangal and so it may be wiser to leave the galangal in thin slices. 

Similarly the lemon grass is eaten, but you may prefer to cut it into 2" 
lengths, and crush them with a mallet. These may then be discarded by 
the diner. 



1 cat fish (about half a pound prepared weight) 

2 cups of fish stock 
1 cup of coconut milk 
1 tablespoon of kha (galangal), julienned 
1 tablespoon of takhrai (lemon grass), thinly sliced 
1 tablespoon bai phak chi (coriander/cilantro leaves) 
1 tablespoon of prik ki nu daeng (red birdseye chilis), thinly sliced 
4 tablespoons of fish sauce 
4 tablespoons of lime juice 


Bring the stock to a simmer. 

Add the galangal, lemon grass, coriander, chilis, fish sauce and lime 
juice, and bring back to the simmer. 

Clean the fish and cut it into 1" steaks, then divide them, removing the 

Add the fish to the soup, and the coconut milk and bring back to a very 
gentle simmer, and poach the fish for 3-4 minutes (until just cooked).
Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.