Although you will find this dish transliterated a dozen different ways, the name simply means coconut milk chicken noodles. It is sometimes regaled as the national dish of Myanmar (Burma), alongside Mohinga, the wonderful fish noodle soup. Each is equally deserving of the title. You might also be familiar with this recipe from northern Thai cuisine (khao soi), where it seems to have been borrowed and evolved into many different forms. There are quick and easy ways to make it, but I think pounding the ingredients to extract their flavor does make a big difference, as does a good fresh chicken stock. The recipe works best with fresh medium sized rice noodles. See the recipe in the section on noodles or purchase them in an Asian grocery. Dried noodles also work. It is is also often made with thin egg noodles. The unique flavor comes surprisingly not only from the coconut, but from chickpea flour, which can be purchased or made from dried chickpeas whizzed in a powerful blender or food processor. You can also garnish this however you like, with hard boiled egg or pickled mustard greens.
Serves 1, multiply for more servings
4 ounces fresh medium rice noodles, a small handful of which are fried
¼ cup peanut oil, plus 2 tbs
1 inch piece fresh peeled ginger
1 small garlic clove
1 inch piece fresh peeled turmeric
1 small red chili pepper
1 skinned boneless chicken thigh
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs chickpea flour dissolved in 1/2 cup of water
3 oz coconut milk
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1 small shallot chopped
Start by taking a handful of noodles and frying them in hot peanut oil for a few seconds, just until they puff up. Set them aside on a paper towel to drain and cool. Then take ginger, garlic, turmeric and chili and pound them in a mortar into a fine paste. Fry this paste gently in 2 tablespoons of oil about 5 minutes. Add the cubed chicken thighs and stir. Let it stick a bit to the bottom of the pan and cook through. Then add the chicken mixture to your chicken stock, add fish sauce and the chickpea flour dissolved in a half cup of water (stirred well so it doesn’t clump). Stir and let the chicken gently simmer for about 10 minutes.
Put the fresh noodles in to boiling water about 10 seconds and then put them in a collander, run them under cold water to stop the cooking. Or cook and drain dried noodles according to package directions.
When ready to serve add the coconut milk to the chicken and bring to the boil.
To assemble put the noodles in the bottom of a bowl and pour the chicken and soup over it. On top add the fried noodles, a good handful of chopped cilantro, chopped shallot and a big wedge of lemon. You can also add a little more ground chili if you like it spicier as well as other garnishes.