Fish & Seafood

Thai Fish Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha Pla)

Thai Fish Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha Pla) |

The fish version of tom kha gai, Thai fish coconut milk soup, or tom kha pla, is similarly cooked and seasoned with lemongrass, galangal, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce.

The broth was made from fish heads and bones, and whatever flesh I could salvage from them went into the soup.

Why, what happened to the rest of the fish flesh? The fillets were breaded and fried, tonkatsu-style, and we had them for lunch the other day along with this fish coconut milk soup. 

If you want more fish in your soup, you don’t have to limit yourself from what you can get from the heads and bones. By all means, add all the flesh from the fish. But don’t make short cuts with the broth. Without good fish broth, the soup will simply taste flat. If you want the long version of making broth, click here.

Thai Fish Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha Pla)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Connie Veneracion
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (light portion only), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced galangal (available in the Asian section of groceries)
  • 1 pair kaffir lime leaves thinly sliced
  • 2 finger chilies diced
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 4 cups fish broth
  • bunch yard-long beans (sitaw), cut into two-inch lengths
  • 1 cup flaked fish
  • 2 cups coconut milk (fresh or canned)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons kalamansi juice (or lime or lemon juice)
  1. Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chilies. Drizzle with fish sauce. Continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft and aromatic.
  2. Pour in the fish broth. Stir. Taste. Add more fish sauce, as needed. Bring to the boil.
  3. Add the yard-long beans. Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer until the beans are done.
  4. Add the flaked fish.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk. Heat just until simmering.
  6. Turn off the heat. Pour in just enough kalamansi (or lime or lemon) juice to add tang but not overwhelm the natural sweetness of the coconut milk.
  7. Serve the Thai fish coconut milk soup at once. Garnish with cilantro and lime or lemon wedges.

Thai Fish Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha Pla)

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