I firmly believe that Khao Soi should be ranked as one of the world’s great dishes. You can call it a curry or you can call it a noodle soup and it is both of those with more on top, literally on top! A broth of aromatic curry paste and orange-tinged coconut milk with tender chicken falling apart for you, boiled noodles lurking underneath and becoming coated with fragrant oil as they break the surface. Crispy noodles on top you can manipulate and dunk into the sauce. And then as if that wasn’t enough you get to add accompaniments of your choice, raw shallots, pickled cucumbers or mustard greens, peanuts, and halved hard-boiled eggs are just some of the additions that can embellish this dish. And let’s not forget the chili oil paste that enables diners to spice the dish, or not, to their heart’s content. Beyond question, most at home in Chiang Mai, this is a dish that has been travelling the trade routes from southern China through Laos and Myanmar for centuries. These days many travellers spend a considerable portion of their time in Chiang Mai checking out the various eating places famed for this dish; it’s that good. The recipe might look long but more than anything that is because I am covering it in detail, the longest and hardest part by far has already been done for you in the making of the curry paste. Apart from that, it’s a little preparation and a short cooking time. A spectacular dish to serve to guests with almost everything capable of being prepared a day or so before, in fact as with most curries it will taste even better if cooked the day before. Let’s go!
The images below show the ingredients and how I prepped them, the full ingredient list and detailed instructions are at the end of this post. Or you can use the “jump to recipe” link above.
Slice the chicken drumsticks through to the bone.
Marinate the chicken with all of the contents of the Yellow Curry paste pouch, working it well into the chicken. Leave it to marinate in the fridge overnight if at all possible.
The fried noodles or tagliatelle can be fried the day before and reserved. Add the cooking oil to a wok or deep pan and heat to around 150°C. Fry in batches for no more than 90 seconds and drain on kitchen paper. You are aiming for a crisp, golden brown, bubbly noodle as in the image below.
Sauté the garlic, onions or shallots, in a little oil for two or three minutes and then remove.
Add the marinated chicken to the pan and then cook for around 10 minutes over medium heat, turning occasionally until the chicken is nicely browned.
Return the onions to the pan and add the coconut milk.
Stir, and add the water, the fish sauce, and sugar, and stir again.
Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for around 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the noodles that are to be boiled to a pan of boiling water and cook them according to the packet instructions, normally around 2 to 3 minutes, drain, and reserve.
Almost there. An authentic Khao Soi should always have a layer of oil floating on the top ready to coat the noodles as they emerge from the broth!
You’re done! Now watch the video below to see how to put this together. I have a confession to make, I broke the noodles into small pieces at the end to make for easier filming. It had been a long day and there was a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge that was calling my name ever louder and I could take no more. If I was serving this to my guests I would certainly leave the noodles intact as in the picture both for the visual effect and to let them have the pleasure of working out how to go about eating them. The truth is that this can be a somewhat messy eating experience even for Thai’s, remember I said it was a great dish, not an elegant one but just total yumminess! Enjoy:-)