In western cuisines, dairy products are used to round the flavors and add creaminess to the dish. In Thai cuisine, this role is played by the coconut milk. Coconut milk (or cream) is also the best friend for those who need help to tolerate the heat. Thus, a more recent variation of Tom Yam Nam Khon (Thai: ต้มยำน้ำข้น) appeared. It is a transitional soup between the Tom Yam Kung and Tom Kha Thale. The creamy version of Tom Yam Kung is made by adding a little bit of cow or coconut milk to the broth as a finishing touch. Note that Tom Yam Nam Khon is often confused with Tom Kha Thale, which is galangal (Kha) soup where the flavor of galangal is dominant. While the first soup uses the coconut milk just as a finishing touch, Tom Kha is based on coconut milk.

Coconut Seafood Soup with Galangal
Coconut Seafood Soup with Galangal
The original recipe is influenced by Lao cuisine. For this hot and sour soup chicken is used as main ingredient, and its original name is Tom (soup) Kha (galangal) Gai (chicken). Thale in the name of the soup means that instead of chicken an assortment of seafood is used. Coconut Seafood Soup with GalangalDtom Kah Talay (or Tom Kha Talay) As it often happens, different authors use different transliterations to English.

I cook my Tom Kha Thale slightly different. The result is a kind of Thai-flavored bouillabaisse. To rephrase Julia Child’s words: to me the telling flavor of Tom Kha Thale comes from two things: the Thai soup base — coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, lime juice, Thai green chilies — and, of course, the best seafood medley I can get.

I omit mushrooms and prefer shrimp or fish stock instead of water. First, the stock is infused with fragrant Thai ingredients. Then I add coconut milk. In this liquid, I simmer different types of seafood making sure each one is cooked to perfection. When served, it looks more like a bounty of seafood with intensely flavored coconut Thai sauce.

Galangal and Coconut Seafood Stew

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: lycooking, lyukum cooking lab, recipe, soup, Thai
Servings: 2 portions



  • 2 cups shrimp stock
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2" galangal
  • 2 kaffir lime leaf
  • 1 lbs seafood assorted, cleaned
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce Red Boat Fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar palm
  • 1 Thai red chili pepper adjust to your taste
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cilantro picked leaves


  • 2 oz mushrooms straw, canned or fresh
  • 2 oz cherry tomato halved

for rice

  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 3/4 cup water cold


for rice

  • Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes.
  • Strain soaked rice. Add fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce the heat to min, cover and cook for 15 min. Turn off the heat and keep covered (steaming) for another 15 min.

for seafood stew

  • In a medium saucepan, bring shrimp stock to a gentle boil over medium heat. Smash the lower part of the lemongrass stalk, slice galangal, remove the stem and cut kaffir lime leaf. Add them to the simmering stock to infuse it with their flavors.
  • Strain the stock. Add fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, stemmed and de-seeded (for less heat) Thai chili pepper, and coconut milk. Bring to simmer.
  • Cook seafood in the mixture. The timing for each type of seafood is different. It also depends on size.
  • Before serving, reheat all seafood mixed with cherry tomatoes and straw mushrooms (if using) in the stock and serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves with steamed rice.
Coconut Seafood Soup with Galangal