Before I tell you about this amazing noodle dish I learned to make in northern Thailand, here are more pictures from my recent trip. (And in case you missed my previous Thailand posts, they are here and here).
A Thai Market Outside Bangkok
I visited several markets in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The format seems to be pretty much the same everywhere – vegetable section, fruit section, then there are some bug vendors (yes, insects), rice vendors, fresh noodle vendors, dessert section and prepared foods section. Every single market I went to was extremely clean and organized.
This one was outside Bangkok, in the suburbs where I was staying with my uncle. So this market wasnt touristy, which is always a bonus.
Left: Sapodilla vendor. Right: My uncles wife Da, on her phone & buying guavas. Da showed me around here and so patiently explained everything and translated for me so I could communicate with the vendors
Left: bugs and insects; I was feeling very Andrew Zimmern-ish. Right: lime, red and green chillies
Pink preserved eggs (Chinese thousand year old eggs or century eggs) and pink noodles
Khao Soi Curry Noodles from Chiang Mai (Kow Swear or Khauk Swear in Burma)
Now lets travel up north to the cool mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chinese Muslim traders have greatly influenced this region’s cuisine. Their delicious, spicy noodle dish, influenced by Burmese cuisine, called Khao Soi was everywhere in this city. My favorite vegetarian Khao Soi is from Aum Vegetarian Restaurant. in Chiang Mai.
Left: Chiang Mai Aum restaurant’s Khao Soi topped with coconut cream. In the background, chilli paste, lemon iced tea, and British kid.
Right: My home made version
When I took a Thai Vegetarian cooking class at May Kaidee’s, Duan the owner and instructor was kind enough to show me how to make Khao Soi, even though it wasnt on the class schedule. See this post for more on Duan and the cooking class.
Khao Soi, also spelled Khao Suey or Khao Soy, is also eaten in Myanmar or Burma and Laos. The Burmese version of Khao Soi is called Kow Swear or Khauk Swear. From what I understand, the Burmese curry noodles, are also in a coconut milk broth, but use more Indian influenced spices like coriander and do not have the crispy noodle topping. Since both the the Thai and Burmese versions are quite similar, I’m sending this post off to AWED Burma, hosted by Kitchen Swathi
Other Khao Soi recipes:
Khao Soi by the amazing Chez Pim
A Khao Soi battle between an American guy in Bangkok and a Thai girl in Iowa
A Khao Soi recipe from Rosas Yummy Yums
And then there is this whole blog dedicated to the quest for the perfect Khao Soi in New York city!
A recipe for the Burmese version – Kow Swear on We Are Never Full blog
The version I learned to make at the cooking class had shredded chinese cabbage, cauliflower, and tofu. Ive used shiitake mushrooms, baby corn, carrot, zucchini and beansprouts. But I highly recommend adding some pan fried or deep fried firm tofu to this.
If there is an Asian store where you live, that is best place to buy the specialty ingredients for this recipe. But you may be able to find fresh chinese noodles (not the dry stuff) at the regular grocery store. For the pickled mustard greens, you may have to make a trip to the Asian store (if you want to make your own, here is a good recipe).
All the amazing Khao Sois I had in Chiangmai were topped with crispy fried noodles – the best part! I didnt feel like deep frying, so I used store bought La Choy brand crispy Asian noodles.
Curry Noodles in Coconut Milk Broth or Khao Soi or Khao Soy Recipe
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped shiitake mushroom
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 cup chopped baby corn
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon curry powder or according to taste
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
2 cups fresh Chinese wheat based noodles or about 3 oz dried thin wheat based noodles
1 cup bean sprouts
Toppings and garnishes
1 cup store bought crispy noodles (I used La Choy brand)
2 shallots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pickled mustard greens (available at Asian stores)
3-4 lime wedges
Chopped green onion
Heat a large wok with oil. Add shitake mushroom, zucchini, baby corn and carrot and cook on high for about 2 minutes. Then add curry paste and curry powder. Toss to coat the vegetables. Add light soy sauce and cook about 30 seconds so the vegetables absorb the liquid. Then add dark soy sauce, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Let the curry simmer for about 2 minutes.
Then pour in water and bring back to a simmer. Taste curry and adjust soy sauce, and sugar to taste.
Bring a large pot full of water to boil noodles. If using dried noodles, cook in boiling water till noodles are very al dente. If using fresh noodles, boil for about 1 minute. No matter what noodles you use, make sure not to over cook them. Drain well.
Add cooked noodles and bean sprouts to the curry broth.
Serve Khao Soi in individual bowls, topped with crispy noodles. If you dont have store bought crispy noodles, increase the fresh or dry wheat noodles quantity in this recipe by 1/2 cup. If using dried noodles — deep fry this extra half cup of boiled, drained noodles in oil, till golden. If using fresh noodles, deep fry them as is. Then top Khao Soi with the fried noodles.
Serve with chopped shallots, pickled mustard greens, lime wedges and cilantro on the side.