How to Cook Khao Soi

I had the opportunity to visit Chiang Mai last month courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and whilst there I filmed a series of cooking videos consisting of dishes unique to that part of Thailand. I’ll write about my Chiang Mai travels in a separate post, but right now I just want to get this recipe across to you.

This is the first in the series, and I’m told it’s one of Chiang Mai’s most famous dishes.

Khao Soi (or Kaosoi) is more commonly served with chicken and one way to describe it (if you’re an insular Malaysian like me) is that it’s like laksa – in other words, it’s a noodle dish in a spicy coconut milk-based soup.

Chef Kamsin of Shangri-La Chiang Mai shows me the technique and ingredients involved in creating this dish and they’re actually quite different from laksa.

Some fun facts I learned from Chef Kamsin in this recipe –

  • the cardamoms here are the black variety, not the green ones I usually use in my Malaysian recipes.

  • the spices are fried whole or crushed rather than ground to a powder.

  • the red curry paste is bought commercially, which is typical in Thailand because it’s so readily available.

  • curry pastes in Chiang Mai are milder than those in Bangkok; if you were cooking this in Bangkok you would use only half the amount specified in this recipe or it’d be too spicy.

  • the paste and spices are fried without oil but with small-ish amounts of coconut milk.

  • Khao Soi is always made with egg noodles only, and not other types of noodles.

  • I thought the addition of crispy fried egg noodles on the top was a special touch by Chef Kamsin, but apparently that’s how the dish is typically served – ie. with steamed & boiled egg noodles topped off with crispy noodles.

  • the seafood was separately steamed and added to the dish at the end. By the way, it’s not clear in the video but we did in fact use both blue swimmer crab and soft shell crab in this dish. 

INGREDIENTS:

60 g Soft shell crab or blue swimmer crabs
80 g Squid
80 g River shrimp
50 g Egg noodles
200 g Flat egg noodles

600 g Coconut milk
100 g Red curry paste
20 g Curry powder
10 g Turmeric powder
5 g Galangal
100 g Shallots
20 g Dried chillies
30 g Coriander root
30 g Chinese cardamom
10 g Chilli oil
30 g Lettuce pickle
30 g Chilli flakes
2 g Lime (whole)
60 g Palm sugar
40 g Soy sauce
40 g Oyster sauce
20 g Fish sauce

METHOD:

For the sauce –

1. Heat oil in a saucepan, add the dry ingredients (except palm sugar) and some coconut milk. Mix until they blend together and form a paste.

2. Pour in more coconut milk and add water or stock. Stir occasionally and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Separate the liquid with a sieve or strainer and set aside.

4. Heat the soup and season it with palm sugar, fish sauce and soya sauce.

For the noodles & seafood –

1. Poach or steam the seafood and set aside.

2. Heat up about 3 inches of oil in a wok, then deep-fry the egg noodles in small batches until crispy.

3. Steam or poach the flat egg noodles.

To assemble –

Place flat egg noodles, poached seafood, and soup in a bowl. Top with crispy egg noodles. Garnish with fried shallots, fresh onions, vegetables and lime.

Khao Soi Talay

Khao Soi Talay

What a fantastic start to my Chiang Mai culinary journey; and for the record, to say it resembles Laksa really doesn’t do it justice – it is in fact quite distinctly different 🙂

The Shangri-La Hotel Group is rolling out a campaign called Rooted in Nature which involves using sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients in its menus. When I was there in June, Shangri-La Chiang Mai was in the final planning stage for the implementation of this programme.

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