What is Khao Soi Gai? I actually just found out a few months ago! Some of you may have heard of this long before me but it might be new to others. It is a dish from Northern Thailand, a coconut curry noodle soup. It’s not be confused with the Burmese dish, Khao Swe or Khao Suey. Although similar, they are different.
I first had Khao Soi Gai with my bestie in Burlington, MA (outside of Boston) at a restaurant called White Coconut. She’s a huge foodie and highly recommended it so that’s what we both ordered. It was SOOO good!!! It was cold out and just what I needed. After I left I missed this dish and craved it. I decided I had to figure out how to make it.
So..welcome to the most complex recipe that will ever be on my blog! Lol! No, seriously though, this is the most elaborate recipe I have ever made. It took me THREE hours to make but oh em gee...it was *so* worth it! This recipe isn’t really mine, it belongs to J.Kenji-Lopez of Serious Eats. I just barely made some slight modifications.
I say it’s my most complex not only because of how long it took me (I think I could’ve made it more quickly but I took my time) but because of the ingredients and how I had to hunt them down. I went from fancy grocery to another to Chinatown ultimately, but I did find everything! My local Asian grocery store actually shut down otherwise I could’ve gotten the ingredients more easily.
Anyway, this recipe is not for the lazy. It is definitely for the dedicated, experimental cook in you. If you’re craving a rich, flavorful Thai coconut curry noodle dish - this is it! You have a soup base from the coconut curry, the soft noodles, your choice of meat or tofu and then it’s finally topped with crunchy, fried, birds nest egg noodles - a lot of elements going on here, it’s definitely a fun dish! After putting in all the elbow grease to make the curry paste, I no longer believe the Thai restaurants are overcharging us! This stuff is hard work and no joke!
*You will need a mortar & pestle for this.
**This recipe can be made vegan if tofu is used instead of chicken. Vegetable or mushroom broth instead of chicken broth. Use wheat noodles instead of egg.
Khao Soi Gai
For the curry paste:
2 small shallots, peeled & quartered
4-5 garlic cloves
1-inch piece ginger
1-inch piece fresh turmeric root
1 lemongrass stalk, bottom half only (cut into small pieces)
3 Makrut/Kaffir lime leaves (soaked in hot water if dried)1 tsp whole coriander seeds
2-3 dried, whole Thai chili (depending on spice level)1 bunch cilantro stems, chopped
Inner seeds of 1 green cardamom pod
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Massaman curry paste
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs - cut into bite size pieces or 4 drumsticks OR tofu; other choice of protein or veggies can be used instead also
2 cans refrigerated, full-fat coconut milk - do not shake
2 cups chicken or vegetable/mushroom broth
1 lb. Chinese egg noodles or wheat noodles, divided
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
Lime wedges, sliced red onion and fried egg noodles for serving
For the curry paste:
1. To begin, make a foil packet from an approx. 12” inch piece of foil, fold it in half and place all the ingredients listed under curry paste inside except for the Massaman curry paste. Seal all edges closed.
2. Roast over an open flame gas stove for about 8-10 minutes, flipping frequently. You will hear the spices sizzling and smell everything getting aromatic. If you don’t have a gas stove then roast foil packet in a heavy bottomed pan on med-high heat.
3. Transfer contents of foil packet into mortar, add Massaman curry paste & salt then grind into a fine paste with the pestle. This will take a while - be patient. Hey, look at this way...you’re getting an arm workout in! If you can’t grind it down completely, it’s fine. You can just strain the curry later like I did as I was unable to grind it all down finely - (I left my lemongrass pieces bigger which is why it was more difficult to make into a paste. If you’ve ever worked with fresh lemongrass before, you know it’s very fibrous and hairy).
For the curry:
1. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in medium-large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot and slightly smoky, scrape two tablespoons of coconut milk from the top of the can - it’ll be thick like whipped cream. Whisk until coconut milk kind of breaks down, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add curry paste and sauté to further enhance the flavors by mixing and smearing it into the oil again for 2-3 minutes.
3. Slowly add the rest of coconut milk, chicken or vegetable broth, and palm sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil. If you were unable to grind your curry paste down smoothly, then remove curry from heat and pour through a strainer/sieve into another pot or large enough heat-proof bowl then return back to saucepan over heat.
4. Add chicken*, tofu or veggies** and continue to boil on medium heat until chicken has cooked all the way through or tofu is heated thoroughly.
*If using drumsticks then simmer in curry for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
**If using veggies then cook until desired tenderness.
For the noodles:
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add 3/4 of noodles to cook. Follow instructions on packet for boiling. Drain and divide noodles among bowls.
2. Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a small wok to 350°F. Take the remaining 1/4 lb. of noodles and fry in oil until golden brown and crispy - approx 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towel and set aside as topping.
Ladle curry over noodles in each bowl. Scoop out meat, tofu or veggies and divide among each bowl as well. Top with fried noodles, lime wedge and sliced red onions. Enjoy!!
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