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Thai Boiled Chicken With Fish Sauce (Kai Tom Nam Pla)

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Thai boiled chicken with fish sauce, or kai tom nam pla, is a traditional Thai recipe for an easy dinner with rice. The fall-off-the-bone chicken thighs are simmered to perfection in the most amazing savory mix of herbs and spices.

Thai boiled chicken thighs with fish sauce aka kai tom nam pla served on a banana leaf with steamed rice and condiments in the background.

Craving more Thai chicken rice? Try my authentic khao man gai recipe!

What is kai tom nam pla

Kai tom nam pla, or gai tom nam pla, is a traditional Thai dish with tender chicken simmered in a flavorful broth. Enhanced with fish sauce, herbs, and spices, it’s a protein-rich meal that’s usually paired with rice.

It’s a staple in Thai cuisine, often found at street food stalls or in homes across Thailand.

Thai boiled chicken with fish sauce

Boiling chicken thighs Thai-style is key for the juiciest, most flavorful chicken ever!

Smiling woman presenting a clay plate of Thai boiled chicken thighs with fish sauce, garnished with cilantro.

Together with my hubby, I’ve cracked the code to chicken thighs that are so tender, they practically melt on your tongue.

We swear by bone-in chicken for that extra flavor in the chicken broth, and our dogs can’t get enough of those bones!

Thai boiling doesn’t drown the chicken in water. The chicken needs a partial dip, enough to let it simmer in the broth while staying moist and soaking up those incredible flavors.

It’s the best way to boil chicken, trust me.

Laying them in a single layer is key, just flip them halfway for an even cook.

Why try this boiled chicken thighs recipe

  • It’s healthy and nutritious: This dish is packed with protein from the boiled chicken and vitamins from the herbs and spices.
  • Authentic Thai recipe: Experience a taste of traditional Thai cuisine with this classic dish.
  • It’s light yet filling: It’s a great choice for a hearty yet light meal. It’s also a hit among both kids and adults!
  • Easy to prepare: This kai tom nam pla recipe is easy for every home cook. It’s perfect for those busy weeknights when you’re craving something delicious without too much fuss.
Close-up of a piece of boiled chicken thigh with fish sauce on a fork.

The ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

All ingredients for Thai boiled chicken on a bamboo serving tray; raw chicken thighs, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, palm sugar, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, coriander root, water, and white pepper.
  • Chicken thighs – Go for skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs for a taste that’s simply unbeatable. With their juicy dark meat, thighs bring a rich flavor to the broth. You can use a whole chicken or other cuts of chicken if you prefer.
  • Dark soy sauce – Dark soy sauce is often used to darken the color of Asian dishes. It lends a gorgeous caramel hue and adds an extra layer of richness to the chicken.
  • Light soy sauce – Enhances the flavors with saltiness and umami.
  • Palm sugar – Adds a sweetness with a caramel-like note. It’s a healthier pick than white sugar, offering a gentle sweetness. The palm sugar will make all the difference here.
  • Fish sauce – A Southeast Asian staple, it adds a savory, umami flavor to the chicken broth.
  • Coriander root – Coriander root perfectly complements the other spices in this dish.
  • White pepper – Adds a light pepper flavor to both the chicken meat and the broth.
  • Lemongrass – Infuses the chicken and broth with a citrusy, fresh note.
  • Galangal – Its sharp, citrusy notes and delightful aroma make galangal an important ingredient in Thai soups, curries, and more.
  • Garlic – Garlic enhances the overall flavor and adds depth and aromas.
  • Water – We need enough water to partially submerge the chicken, so the flavors can mingle.

Cooking instructions

  1. Step-by-step cooking process for Thai boiled chicken with fish sauce, showing ingredients in pot, boiling herbs, adding sauces, and simmering chicken thighs in broth.

    1. Pour water into a pot over a medium heat. Toss in the garlic, coriander root, lemongrass, and galangal. Close the lid and gradually let it come to a boil.

  2. 2. As it bubbles, add fish sauce, light and dark soy sauces, white pepper, and palm sugar. Give it a stir, ensuring the sugar dissolves completely.

  3. 3. Once your broth is boiling again, arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer. They should be just over half-submerged in the liquid. Seal with the lid.

  4. 4. Switch the heat to low and let the chicken simmer slowly for 45 minutes. Halfway through, give it a flip.

  5. 5. After simmering, let the chicken thighs rest for several minutes, allowing the meat to soak up the juices. Serve your boiled chicken with rice.

Recipe tips & tricks

  • Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs for the best flavor: Trust me, this is key to the richest, most aromatic boiled chicken ever.
  • A single layer for even cooking: Arrange the chicken in just one layer – no stacking. Give it a flip a mid-cooking.
  • Choose chicken of similar size: This helps the chicken cook evenly.
  • Taste-test and adjust: This Thai boiled chicken thighs and rice recipe is flexible, feel free to adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Repurpose the broth: Use the leftover broth to infuse your rice or other dishes with flavor.
  • Avoid overcooking: Keep an eye on the cloth, overcooking chicken makes it dry.

How to serve

Boiled chicken and rice? Yes please!

In Thailand, kai tom nam pla is served with steamed jasmine rice and a garnish of fresh herbs like coriander and cilantro. Fresh vegetables like cucumber and Thai eggplants can be added on the side. Scoop some of the broth over your rice for extra flavor.

Thai boiled chicken is often served with a dipping sauce like this vinegar dipping sauce, alternatively you can use a store bought sweet chili sauce.

How to store and reheat

Allow your Thai boiled chicken with fish sauce leftovers to cool to room temperature. Transfer the chicken and any leftover broth into separate airtight containers. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Reheat the chicken over low heat on your stovetop. As a last resort, you can use the microwave.

Frequently asked questions

What is gai tom?

Gai tom or Thai boiled chicken is a popular street food dish in Northern Thailand, where it might have originated. It’s made by boiling chicken in a flavorful broth of herbs, spices, and traditional ingredients.

Can I use other chicken cuts in this recipe?

Absolutely! While chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness and flavor, you can definitely use other cuts like chicken breasts or legs. Just remember, cooking times may vary depending on the cut.

How long does it take to boil chicken thighs?

For Thai boiled chicken thighs, it typically takes about 45 minutes to simmer the chicken until it’s fully cooked and infused with the flavors of the herbs and spices.

Is boiled chicken thigh good?

Boiling chicken thighs is a healthy cooking method that keeps the chicken moist and tender.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes. Store it in the fridge and just reheat when you’re ready to serve.

More Thai chicken recipes you’ll love

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Thai Boiled Chicken With Fish Sauce (Kai Tom Nam Pla)

Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 50 min Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings: 2 Calories: 683

Description

This traditional Thai recipe makes tasty boiled chicken thighs in a flavorful broth of fish sauce with fresh herbs and spices.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour water into a pot over a medium heat. Toss in the garlic, coriander root, lemongrass, and galangal. Close the lid and gradually let it come to a boil.

  2. As it bubbles, add fish sauce, light and dark soy sauces, white pepper, and palm sugar. Give it a stir, ensuring the sugar dissolves completely.

  3. Once your broth is boiling again, arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer. They should be just over half-submerged in the liquid. Seal with the lid.

  4. Switch the heat to low and let the chicken simmer slowly for 45 minutes. Halfway through, give it a flip.

  5. After simmering, let the chicken thighs rest for several minutes, allowing the meat to soak up the juices. Serve chicken with rice.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 thigh

Servings 2


Amount Per Serving
Calories 683kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 42.6g66%
Saturated Fat 12.5g63%
Total Carbohydrate 20.3g7%
Dietary Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugars 15.1g
Protein 53g106%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Serve with rice and a dipping sauce like sweet chili sauce.
  • Skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs deliver the best results.
  • Place the chicken in a single layer to make sure all pieces cook evenly. Flip halfway through.
  • Use the leftover chicken broth to flavor your rice or other dishes.

Keywords: boiled chicken with fish sauce, boiled chicken thighs, kai tom nam pla
About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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