Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chiang Mai curry noodles

I embarked on the first of a number of experiments with Asian cooking last night. Here is the main thing I learned: 3 cups of coconut milk is a hell of a lot of coconut milk for one dish. Also, I need to plan better for vegetables. Since the garlic and coconut milk were the only things that even resembled vegetables in the whole meal. Oops.

Otherwise, it was delicious, and I was quite pleased with how easy it was to make, and how reasonable the ingredient list was. I could find everything at the regular grocery store -- not that I object to frequenting Asian grocers, it's just that this was much more convenient for my hella busy day yesterday. This is a very rich, sweet curry; I used a mild curry paste, and it wasn't really spicy at all.

I made the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia, which I received for Christmas. It's a beautiful cookbook/travel book, and I expect I'll try to get around to reviewing it over at the other blog eventually. Do any librarians in the audience know if I'm horribly infringing copyright by posting an entire recipe, even if I attribute it? I suspect I should know more about copyright law than I do, given what I want to do for a living. At any rate, I'm not going to give you the commentary from the recipe, so if you want to read that you should borrow the book from your local library. Or buy it, I guess.

A couple notes: I used 4 cloves of garlic, because by and large I am immune to it and find that cookbook authors tend to be very conservative with their garlic estimates. The teaspoon of turmeric seems to be a bit much. However, I was using extremely fresh ground turmeric; it was quite powerful. The beef was a bit chewy. Alford and Duguid suggest that chicken can be used instead, and next time I think I will try that. I used chow mein noodles, because they are a kind of Chinese egg noodle... and they worked really well.

There were other options for condiments, like fried noodles and Thai pickled cabbage -- I had neither of these to hand, and deep frying just doesn't go well in this house. I definitely recommend at least the scallions, and both the shallots and scallions if possible. They make the dish -- cut right through the richness of the broth.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles (aka. khao soi)
pg. 134 of Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, minced, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste (there is a recipe for this in the book, but I used store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 cups canned or fresh coconut milk, with 1/2 cup of the thickest milk set aside
  • 1/2 pound boneless flavourful beef (sirloin tip or trimmed stewing beef), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 pound Chinese egg noodles

Toppings and condiments:
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

"Place the garlic in a mortar with the turmeric and the pinch of salt and pound to a paste. Alternatively, finely mince the garlic and whole turmeric, if using, and place the garlic and turmeric in a small bowl with the pinch of salt. Stir in the red curry paste and set aside.

"Place a large heavy pot or wok over high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and, when it is hot, toss in the curry paste mixture. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the reserved 1/2 cup thick coconut milk and lower the heat to medium-high. Add the meat and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the meat has changed colour all over. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups coconut milk, the water, fish sauce, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook at a strong simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice." (Alford and Duguid, p. 135)

The above soup can be made an hour in advance and reheated before serving, if you want. Then cook your noodles as the package instructs, until they are tender but not mushy, drain them, and serve the soup over the noodles. Each person can add scallions and shallots as desired.

Serves 4.


Gretchen said...

Okay, now I'm seriously in the mood for curry. YUM.

kiirstin said...

Yes, but beware the coconut milk. You'll just be cooking along and then suddenly there'll be three cups of it in the pot. And that will be too much!