Did I…did I tell you yet that I once went travelling around Thailand and Malaysia on my own in my teens? Did I?! Did I tell you? That I, Laura Dennison, once went travelling to a few spots of South-East Asia – on a plane – to eat some nice food and get sunburnt? I might’ve mentioned it in a few posts previous to this one……… Have I shoved that trip down your throat enough yet? Have I? No? Okay, great.
I’m not saying that the bowls and bowls of buttered penne pasta consumed in the six years since have paled in comparison to the food I had on my travels…but I do still dream a lot about that first introduction I had to spice whilst I was over there. Much like a sweaty, spotty teenager who spends too much time in their room smoking an increasing volume of sub-par weed hoping to get more mellow than the day before, it seems that I’m still chasing that high.
I suppose it’s taken me six years to attempt to recreate one of my favourite dishes from my time away because it’s taken me around six years to finally overcome an eating disorder that left me crippled with anxiety when it came to navigating my way around a kitchen. Or should I say, rather, a blend of two of my favourite dishes.
In the mountainous, Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, I took part in a self-described “authentic” Thai cooking class where I learned cruelly that my body cannot digest more than three chillies in one dish without it melting my bowels. But aside from that useful yet repugnant takeaway, I still have kept the small A5 string bound recipe book my tutor gifted me, including a recipe for Khao Soi, or Chiang Mai noodle soup.
Although my reinvention on this classic Thai dish is fundamentally true to it’s original state – I added “spoons of coconut milks” and “curry paste after smell” like it told me to – I did replace the chicken with king prawns and added a boiled egg as a nod to the multiple Laksas I tried in Kuala Lumpa in Malaysia. Laksa is also a popular spicy noodle soup, but this one’s associated with the South. It’s typically served with rice noodles or rice vermicelli, but in this recipe, I stuck with Khao Soi’s egg noodles and important kept my favourite element: The fried noodles on top.
What I am left with after muddling these two dishes in my very non-Thai kitchen is one spicy, soupy lovechild, with enough scope to turn into a noodle sauce with the reservation of enough water. If you, like myself, are a fan of the sweet and spicy Thai combination of coconut, lime and chilli, this I can assure you is a dish you ought to try this week.
(Serves approximately 4-5 people.)
300g egg noodles
4tbsp red curry paste mixed with a sprinkling of chilli powder
150g king prawns
1 tin coconut milk
4 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp cooking oil
250ml cooking oil for frying the noodles
1. Boil the noodles for the length of time suggested on the packet. Drain and put to one side.
2. Peel the shallots and chop into quarters.
3. Put 250ml of cooking oil in a wok and heat over a medium flame until it begins to bubble. Submerge small handfuls of noodles in intervals in the oil and fry until crispy. They should make a sizzle when they make contact with the oil and this process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Repeat the process until you have enough to decorate the top of your dishes. Put to one side.
4. Fry 2 tsp of coconut oil with the red curry paste mixed with chilli powder in a large frying pan and stir until the smell of spice hits your nostrils.
5. Add the shallots and king prawns and simmer on a medium to low heat until the prawns have cooked through.
6. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar and the rest of the coconut milk and stir.
7. Add the pre-boiled noodles in bunches and stir as you go.
8. Add 1 cup of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for a few more minutes until everything has been heated through. Turn off.
9. (This is totally optional…) Boil an egg for around 10 minutes. Peel and slice.
10. In a small frying pan, fry together 2 tsp of chilli powder with a little cooking oil to create a paste. This will be drizzled on top of the soup.
11. Plate up! Get creative! Spoon the soup into a bowl, add the boiled egg slices, drizzle on the fried chilli paste, balance the fried noodles on top and serve with a slice of lime.