Northern Thai Curry (khao soi)
I guess I've got Asian food on my mind lately. Maybe it's a weird pregnancy craving. Maybe I want spicy food in this cold winter.
Maybe I miss the sun. For example:
Asia (this is my own photo from the day we hired a pick-up truck driver to take us into the backwoods mountains of Thailand...dusty, good times, sharing mystery fruit with the other passengers, older, exotically dressed men and women with baskets from the city market).
Eugene (this is not my photo, it's still however an incredibly accurate depiction of the view outside my apartment window. Source here).
To explain - after my husband and I got married four years ago, we went on a research trip (ha! grad students...like we do any actual research)/honeymoon to Asia. We spent a month and a half in Thailand, two weeks in Laos, and another month and a half in China.
It was something.
Now, whenever I'm nostalgic for a good, fun time in my life, I think of that time. And lately, when I'm still struggling with morning sickness and pregnancy-induced-weakness-that-makes-me-feel-like-I-should-start-bidding-my-loved-ones-farewell, I am feeling nostalgic for those times.
So this week, I was lucky enough to actually find a recipe for what was my absolute favorite dish in Thailand. It is called khao soi, and it's a coconut milk and curry-based soup, with egg noodles, cabbage, and lime. It is also commonly made with chicken, although I prefer it with fried tofu. A throwback to my vegetarian days, I guess.
It may look exotic, but don't feel intimidated. This was actually easier than most Western soups, certainly less vegetable chopping! The hardest ingredient to find was the coconut cream, but it was available at my local health food store. So not too far out of the way.
Like most Asian dishes, it's a matter of preparing and gathering all ingredients to one place, and then throwing them together just before eating. I like this method - it keeps things fresh.
Such an interesting combination of flavors in this soup - sweet coconut milk, warm, spicy curry, sour lime, and smooth fried noodles on top.
Must...get back...to Asia...
Northern Thai Curry (Khao Soi) (adapted from a couple living in Thailand, who learned it from their Thai housekeeper. How much more authentic can you get?)
1 liter coconut cream, reserving 1 cup
2 liters coconut milk
2 T red curry paste
1 t yellow curry powder
2 T chicken bouillon
2 lb thin sliced boneless chicken (or 1 package tofu)
1 bag uncooked Chinese egg noodles
If doing tofu, slice it into thin sticks and fry with some oil in a hot frying pan, until brown and toasty. This is also a good time to cook up the egg noodles, according to the instructions on the package.
If doing chicken, get egg noodles on to boil, then put coconut cream (reserving 1 cup) and coconut milk into a large soup pot. Add the red curry paste, yellow curry powder, and bouillon. Drop in the raw chicken, or tofu, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat, but leave it on the burner. The flavors will meld together during this time.
This is a good time to fry up your noodles. Take 1/4 of the cooked noodles (should be cooked, rinsed with water, and ready in the colander by now) and throw them into your frying pan with some oil (start with about 3 T, add more as needed). Fry them up until brown and crispy, stirring constantly so they don't burn.
When you are ready to eat, assemble your dish starting with egg noodles at the bottom. Cover with coconut broth and chicken or tofu, top with limes, spicy cabbage kim chi (if you have it, if not it isn't a huge loss), and crispy fried noodles.