Kow Soi Chiang Mai Curried Noodles
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 heaped tbsp good quality red curry paste
- 2 x 400ml/14floz cans of coconut milk
- 800ml/27floz cups chicken stock
- 650g/1½lb chicken thighs, cut into 2cm/¾in pieces
- 1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
- 3 tbsp hot curry powder
- 2 long dried red chillies
- 2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- 65-70g/2½ -2¼oz egg noodles per head (about a ‘nest’ each), uncooked weight
Crispy egg noodles
4 Thai shallots or 2 regular shallots, peeled and sliced
Extra nam pla (fish sauce)
Nam prik pao (roasted chilli paste)
Fermented mustard greens
This is my dad’s recipe, and kow soi was his favourite dish. When I was seven, he took me with him on a trip to Chiang Mai. It was my first time in the north, and I loved it. But my abiding memory is not of elephants and golden temples; it’s of going to a kow soi restaurant, where Dad ate so many bowls of it he had to be taken back to the hotel in a wheelbarrow. A stunt that, in retrospect, I realise was more for my amusement than necessity. But still. When they retired to Gozo, he and Mum would cook Thai food at least once a week, adapting recipes as best they could with the ingredients they could find. And I was tasked with bringing suitcases full of their favourite brand of curry paste each time I visited, which left my swimwear with an interesting aroma. Even as a widower, Dad would make a batch of this once a month, freezing the portions so that he could have it every Sunday. The recipe demonstrates a typical Thai home cook’s trick: paste adaptation. Rather than filling your fridge with every kind of paste, or making it from scratch every time, you simply add the missing spices, often in powdered form, either to the paste or the developing curry.
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and stir-fry until golden brown, then add the curry paste and stir fry until fragrant – no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add half the coconut milk and stir gently until the paste dissolves. Then add the rest of the coconut milk and the stock, and allow to bubble gently until the sauce starts to reduce and to thicken slightly.
2. Add the chicken, stirring it into the sauce.
3. Then add the turmeric, curry powder, dried chillies, nam pla and lime juice, stirring them in well. Turn down the heat, and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain, then place each portion of noodles into a bowl.
5. Spoon the curry generously over the noodles and serve with the garnish ingredients on the side.
6. This is quite a spicy version. If you prefer a milder, creamier taste, just stir in some coconut cream on the final heat through.
7. To make the crispy egg noodle garnish, soak a coil or two of egg noodles as per packet instructions. Drain and dry them well on some paper towel. Heat some oil for deep-frying. Gently lower the noodles a handful at a time into the hot oil and gently fry until crisp, turning with tongs. Remove from the oil and drain on fresh paper towels.
8. Then fry each batch again until golden. Drain well and serve on top of the kow soi.
9. Fermented mustard greens can be found in most Asian supermarkets. Use any left over chopped up in a kai jeow (Thai omelette).
Mango, Lime And Basil Sorbet
- Zest of 3 limes
- 100ml/3½floz fresh lime juice
- A good handful of Thai basil
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 750g/1lb 10oz (drained weight) canned mango in its juice (about 3 cans)
This recipe happened by accident – the fickle finger of fate. I could not find a ripe, unstringy mango for love or money, but I wanted these flavours for a dessert. Then I remembered using cans when I lived in New York, because (again) I couldn’t find fresh. They work a treat, and make this incredibly easy.
1. In a small saucepan, gently heat 150ml/5floz water with the zest of 2 limes, the lime juice, basil and the sugar, until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and simmer for 2 minutes to infuse the syrup.
2. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the syrup, discarding the basil and zest, then add the remaining fresh lime zest.
3. Pour the syrup into a food processor along with the mango, and blitz until smooth.
4. Churn in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn the sorbet out into a lidded container and store in the freezer.
5. Remove the sorbet from the freezer 5-10 minutes before you want to serve it.
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