Khao soi is this incredible curried coconut soup from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It’s not famous. Not on a lot of Thai menus. But it should be. Crazy tasty stuff.
Forget pad thai – there’s a new king in town
There’s something special about this dish. It will make you wonder why pad thai was ever your favourite noodle dish.
The creaminess of the coconut milk against the curry flavours. Chewy noodles. The freshness of the lime. Deeply satisfying. Delicious.
Making authentic khao soi is serious business. Real work. Hard to get ingredients. Curry paste from scratch. That’s the best way.
This is the easy way. Fast. But still unbelievably good. A khao soi recipe for weeknight dinners. When you want something amazing for dinner on a Tuesday.
I’m an Asian noodle nut. There are Asian noodle recipes all over this blog. Pho. Mi bo kho. Four different ramen dishes. Pad thai. Bun cha. The list goes on.
This is one of my favourites. It hits all the Southeast Asian flavours. Hot, sweet, sour and salty. All in one dish. It just has everything going on.
Khao soi is all about the right curry paste
What makes easy khao soi a snap is the curry paste. And the choice of curry paste matters. Red curry paste kind of works. But it winds up tasting like red Thai curry. Not bad. But not great. It works better with beef.
Massaman curry paste though. That’s in the wheel house. Add some curry powder, garlic and turmeric and you are in the zone. There’s nothing not to like.
Massaman curry paste may be a little harder to find. It won’t be in your local middle of the road grocery store. But it’s worth getting to an Asian market to get some. You can grab some fresh wheat noodles while you are there.
Don’t fear the fish sauce
I get it. Fish sauce sounds awful. It doesn’t smell good. Out of the bottle it really doesn’t taste great. But it’s what makes Southeast Asian cooking what it is.
I used to be scared of fish sauce. I’d swap it out for soy sauce whenever I saw it in a recipe. And the results sucked. Nothing like what you get in restaurants.
Want to guess why? Because they all use fish sauce. All of them. If you eat in Thai restaurants then you eat fish sauce. You just don’t know it.
Now I use it all the time. I say things like “fish sauce makes everything better”. I have seen the light. I am converted. And now I’m preaching to you.
I’m not saying put it on your cornflakes. But I am saying use it when you cook Thai. Or Vietnamese. Please use it in this khao soi recipe.
Fried noodles on top
Traditional khao soi is topped with fried noodles. That’s part of the genius. Crunchy noodles on top of soft noodles slick with coconut curry soup. Awesome. But not essential. Good either way. Noodles are an extra bit of wow. But there’s no shortage of wow here already.
You can buy fried noodles if you don’t want to go the distance. Or just leave them out. The important thing is that you actually make this dish. Experience it.
Khao soi could be your new favourite Thai dish. Try it. If you like Thai food, you will be happy that you did. I was sold after my very first bite. Maybe you will too.
You'll forget all about pad thai once you taste khao soi. Creamy coconut and curry soup.
- 1 lb fresh Chinese egg noodles - dried is OK too
- 3 cloves garlic - crushed
- 3 tbsp massaman curry paste - store bought
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 15 oz cans coconut milk
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3-4 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- shallots, chili oil, green onions, bean sprouts, cilantro to garnish
Let your cans of coconut milk stand to let the cream come to the top. If you don't have time, it's not the end of the world.
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Combine garlic, massaman curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a wok or similar pan over medium heat. Add curry mixture and fry, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
Spoon off the coconut cream from each of the cans of coconut milk. Add that to the pan. Fry for another minute.
Add the chicken and brown sugar and cook until the chicken is just done through. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
Add the remaining coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Now add the fish sauce and lime juice and cook another minute of so. Reduce heat to low.
Add the noodles to the boiling water. Cook per the instructions on the package. Chinese egg noodles should take one to two minutes to cook through. If the instructions say longer consider cooking them when you add the chicken to the pan.
To serve, divide the noodles into four bowls. Spoon the chicken overtop and ladle the broth into the bowls. Garnish as you like with shallots, green onions, cilantro, chili oil and bean sprouts. Serve with additional lime wedges.
Fried noodles are optional. They are an authentic ingredient though. If you can get fresh Chinese egg noodles consider it. Heat about one inch of oil in a wok. As it heats test the oil with a small piece of fresh noodle. When it bubbles the oil is hot enough. Add a nest of noodles to the oil. They will crisp up quickly. Flip them using tongs. The whole process takes less than a minute. Set aside on paper towel to drain. You can make these in advance.