Spice Up Your Life
So it’s not winter but it’s also not quite Spring. It’s the “drears.” I don’t know about you but I desperately need a bit of spice in my life. This recipe showed up in my inbox and I had to have it. It’s a Thai dish so I cannot speak to its authenticity, but I can tell you that it is delicious – after a few small tweaks. The soup is pretty rich and VERY satisfying. So while it may not seem as if it would feed six people for a dinner, I found that a relatively small amount goes a long way.
I don’t know about you, but I really hate when a recipe calls for a tiny amount of something that I otherwise would not have in my pantry – and which isn’t available in my local stores. And which I may never use again.
Since I do a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, I’m always happy to buy the right spices or grains to complete my recipe. I will even grind my own spices for those dishes because they are so integral to truly experiencing the food. But I do not make a great deal of Asian or South American dishes.
So when this recipe called for a type of dried chili pepper that three well-stocked grocery stores didn’t carry I said ENOUGH! I know that each pepper has its own flavor profile but surely the dish could be made with some more easily available option. And while I would have liked to use bean sprouts, the only ones around were very sad looking… Yet despite these small disappointments, the final dish was so yummy that I have to share it with you. The smell of the khao soi paste alone was intoxicating.
A Word About Measuring
Spices and herbs make a dish. I recently made my Christmas Lamb Shanks and made the mistake of not tasting it before serving. It needed salt. It would have made all the difference. In the case of this dish, do NOT skimp on the spices. This isn’t baking. I generally measure spices, garlic, onions, cilantro etc. with a heavy hand. I know what I like and rarely do I regret my choices. If you don’t feel comfortable, start out with even measuring and add more as you taste. Otherwise you can pretty much assume that I used somewhat rounded measurements.
Recipe from Bon Appetit
Yield: 6 servings
Khao Soi Paste
4 large dried chiles, stemmed with seeds (I used a combination of Poblano and Negro Chiles. The original recipe called for large dried New Mexico or guajillo chiles, stemmed, halved, seeded. )
2 medium shallots, halved
8-10 garlic cloves
1 rounded tablespoon of grated ginger
1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 14-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk (Use the regular – not “lite”)
4 cups chicken broth (low sodium or unsalted)
1½ lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, halved lengthwise
1 lb Chinese egg noodles
3 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, and lime wedges (for serving)
Khao Soi Paste
- Place chiles in a small heatproof bowl, add boiling water to cover, and let soak until softened, 25–30 minutes. Alternatively, heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes and cover the bowl for 30 minutes.
- Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Purée chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 Tbsp. soaking liquid in a food processor or blender, adding more soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls, if needed, until smooth. (I ended up using almost all of my soaking liquid.)
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add khao soi paste; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4–6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; shred meat.
- Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
- Add chicken, 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, and sugar to soup. Season with salt or more fish sauce, if needed. Divide soup and noodles among bowls and serve with toppings.