I’m obsessed with classic dishes. I’m not talking about handmade plates. The classic dishes I’m talking about are those regional recipes that are so ubiquitous in their area that life just couldn’t be the same without. One of the best examples in the US is chili. Even if you aren’t a big chili fan, you still have to admit that chili has become an integral part of American culture. So when I find a classic dish that I’ve never had before, I get excited- and obsessed with trying to recreate it. That’s what happened when I had the Northern Thai dish Khao Soi.
Khao Soi or Kao Soi (pronounced like cow soy, *I think*) has this strange personality disorder. It’s a soupy, spicy, curry-like dish with noodles and meat. Yet, it’s not really a noodle dish, nor a soup, nor a curry. It is a brilliant blend of flavors and textures commonly served in Northern Thailand and Laos. I had this at a local Thai restaurant last week and am now hooked on this simply yet complex dish.
I did some googling and found quite a few recipes for Khao Soi that were all really similar and very simple. This made it quite easy to put together my own version. The key is keeping each part of the equation that makes this so tasty- sweet, sour, salty, spicy and creamy. The classic recipe is already pretty frugal so it’s easy to make a ton of this on a budget.
Frugal Khao Soi
- 1T oil
- 1T Thai red curry paste (spicy)
- 1t turmeric
- 1 cup (or 1/2 a can) coconut milk (creamy)
- 2T fish sauce (salty)
- 1t chicken bouillon (salty)
- 1 cup water
- 1t sugar (sweet)
- 1 raw chicken breast, sliced thinly
- 2-3 cups Chinese egg noodles, cooked
- 1/2 lime, juiced (sour)
- Fresh cilantro
Heat a wok or other deep pan to medium and add oil, red curry paste and turmeric and stir constantly for a minute or two until the paste has fully mixed with the oil and is getting fragrant. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, bouillon, water and sugar. Simmer for a few minutes until everything is well blended. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked. Put the cooked noodles into two bowls (or one if you’re really hungry). Pour curry sauce over noodles and add a squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro. Add more fish sauce if it’s not salty enough for your taste.
This was delicious but not spicy enough for my tastes. Next time I’m going to add some hot chile too. Don’t be scared off by the Thai red curry paste or fish sauce. Most supermarkets carry both items in the Asian food aisle. The Thai red curry paste comes in a small jar and lasts a long time. The fish sauce is in a larger bottle and also lasts a long time. Both add incredible depth to this dish. It’s definitely worth getting them. The Chinese egg noodles are often refrigerated near the tofu but you could also use spaghettini, spaghetti or angel hair pasta.