Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kao Soi - Curry Noodle Soup!

My love of Saveur magazine is hardly a secret amongst my friends, thanks to the recipes I've made for them from the now well-worn, food-spattered pages. Perhaps disclosing that one issue in particular is probably my favorite is a little more forthcoming. The April issue from 1997 features many incredible dishes, several of which I've made often--Oeufs en Meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce), Pad Thai, and Lentilles du Puy and Macaroni and Cheese which I've posted on Evenings With Peter. I'd also like to introduce Kao Soi here, an incredibly tasty curry noodle soup that never fails to delight my guests, when served with a host of colorful accompaniments such as the sweet and sour pickled red cabbage that I use, chopped shallots, scallions and wedges of lime. I skip the first step and don't fry any noodles first, as the recipe suggests--the simply prepared Kao Soi I've always made hardly needs further embellishment!

Curry Noodle Soup (Kao Soi)
"In Thailand, kao soi is made with ba mee, a variety of egg noodles, that can be difficult to find in the U.S. But lo mein–style Chinese egg noodles are a good substitute."

4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 lb. fresh lo mein-style egg noodles
1 tbsp. Thai red pepper (coarsely ground) or cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp. Madras-style curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock2 tbsp. nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut in 2''–3'' pieces
3–4 scallions, white parts only, chopped
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup pickled cabbage, rinsed and julienned
2 limes, halved

1. Heat about 3 1/2 cups oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add a large handful of noodles and cook until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove noodles immediately and drain on paper towels. Pour off frying oil (which can be reused 2–3 times; strain and store in a closed container until needed), wipe out wok, then add 2 tbsp. fresh oil. Heat over medium-high heat, then add red pepper and fry, stirring constantly, until oil begins to smoke, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in enough remaining oil, about 3 tbsp., to form a thick chile oil. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
2. Wipe out wok, then add curry paste, curry powder, and cumin, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Stir in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add nam pla and sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. (Add up to 1 cup of water if soup is too thick.)
3. Cook remaining noodles by blanching in a large pot of boiling water until soft, about 1 minute. Drain, then refresh under cold water.
4. Divide noodles among 4 soup bowls, ladle soup into bowls, and top with scallions and fried noodles. Serve with shallots, pickled cabbage, chile oil, and limes.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #18

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