M. Andrew Gordon

Thai Coconut Chicken Chowder

In Soups and Stews on September 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Last Saturday was a cold and rainy day in the Boston area, leading me to visions of long-simmered stews, chicken pot pies, buttery biscuits, spicy bowls of chili, and roasted butternut squash.  But there was a small part of me that was sad to see summer slipping by and longing for something to serve as a send off to summer.  There seemed plenty of time for all of the things I love about fall and winter cooking.  I settled on making an Asian inspired chicken dish that could be served with lettuce wraps, something along the lines of a chicken with peanut-ginger sauce dish that I really like.

Somehow, despite my desire to stay away from autumnal dishes, I wound up with something that seemed much like a chowder, with coconut milk substituting for dairy, and the bright flavors of a Thai soup like Tom kha gai without the sweetness.  In the end, I created what I had actually wanted: a warm, filling meal for a cold, rainy day.  I thought this was a great dish, one that deserves some fine tuning and another place on the table.

Thai Coconut Chicken Chowder


  • 1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 arbol pepper, quartered and seeds removed
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces and bruised with back of knife
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 lb chicken tenders or breast, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp sage, basil, or other herbs
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat oil in large, deep skillet.  Add onion, ginger, garlic, and pepper, stirring until soft, about five minutes.  Add lemongrass and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add corn to pan.  Scrape cobs with back of knife over pan to collect juices.  Cook for several minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk and bring to near boil then simmer.  Add chicken.
  4. When chicken is cooked through, about 6 or 7 minutes, add lime zest, syrup or honey, and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.
  1. I’m not sure I know what arbol pepper and lemongrass look like… :o)

    • Yeah, photos would probably help. I’m still working on my food photography skills, but I expect to get some for future posts.

  2. Some friends spent a year in S. Korea and brought us back a similar recipe from the SE Asian travels. We love it now. I’ll have to compare yours to the one my wife makes.

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