1 chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
2 quart water
3 stalks fresh lemon grass
8 slice fresh galangal (or fresh ginger)
6 garlic cloves, smashed
6 fresh thai bird chiles *
8 shallots, sliced
6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1/4 cup thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh coriander leav; es
1/4 cup fresh thai basil leaves, cut into t; hin strips
1 teaspoon black pepper
* (or 4 Serranos), cut into coarse strips, seeds and all.
Salt the chicken inside and out and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour.
In a pot the chicken will fit in snugly, bring water to a boil. Add the chicken and when the water returns to a boil, skim the foam. Cut off the bottom 1/3 of the lemon grass stalk, discarding the rest. Cut the bottom on the bias into oval slices and add to the pot along with the galangal, garlic, chiles, shallots and kaffir lime leaves (if you can find them).
Turn the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add the fish sauce, sugar and up to 2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste). Simmer until the skin near the wing starts to split, about 30 more minutes, then remove the chicken to a large, round serving bowl leaving the stock in the pot. Cover the chicken to keep warm.
Add the lime juice to the broth as well as the coriander and basil leaves. Pour the broth over the chicken, sprinkle with the black pepper and serve.
The chicken should pull off the bone easily; it's best eaten from bowls with some of the broth and herbs poured over.
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