Khao Soi (Northern Thai Chicken Curry)

Public Service Announcement: this recipe is no easy feat. It takes a run to your local Asian grocery store and the purchase of some unusual ingredients all before you even start your work in the kitchen. That being said, if you have traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and had the gloriousness that is Khao Soi while you were there, you will find that the recipe is more than worth the effort. For those unfamiliar, Khao Soi is a chicken curry dish found exclusively in Northern Thailand. Most restaurants in the region have their version on a menu, and it is sold for about 30 baht ($1 USD) per bowl.

The components of Khao Soi are: soft egg noodles on the bottom, a coconut based red curry soup broth, dark meat chicken, and crispy egg noodles on top. The dish is served with accompaniments on the side including a wedge of lime, sliced shallots, and some sort of pickled green vegetable. Tuck’s mom learned how to make Khao Soi at a cooking class in Thailand and quickly replicated it for Tate’s mom, who has been craving this dish since her trip to Thailand in 2012.

Khao Soi (Northern Thai Chicken Curry)

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients for Khao Soy Curry Paste:

  • 4 tbs red curry paste
  • 4 tsp fresh ginger
  • 4 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 4  tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander seed 
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seed

Ingredients for Khao Soi Curry :

  • 8 tbs khao soy curry paste (one full recipe above)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 package chicken thighs (around 1.25 lbs)
  • 16 oz coconut milk *
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 4 tsp sugar 
  • 4 tbs fish sauce

Ingredients For Toppings and Base:

  • 2 lbs fresh egg noodles, separated **
  • thinly sliced shallot
  • 1 lime, segmented
  • chopped cilantro (not traditional but we prefer this over pickled vegetables)

Directions:

  1. Make the crispy noodles. Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil in a small sauce pot over medium high heat. Separate 1/4 of the egg noodles (.5 lbs) to be used for the crispy noodles on top of the curry. Fry the noodles in batches in the oil until the noodles are crispy. If you are using fresh noodles, this should only take about 1-2 minutes per batch of noodles. Set each batch onto paper towels to drain and season with a pinch of salt. When all of the .5 lbs of noodles have been cooked, turn the oil off the heat and set the noodles aside until ready to serve.
  2. Make the khao soi curry paste. Combine all of the khao soi curry paste ingredients in a small blender. Blend thoroughly so that the ingredients form a rough paste.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot. Add the khao soi curry paste to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat so that the ingredients start to release their flavors. Add the chicken thighs to the pan, searing on each side for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock to the pan. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a constant simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the chicken thighs are cooked completely through.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken thighs onto a cutting board. Use two forks to pull the chicken into large, bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken back into the pot along with the fish sauce and sugar. Cover and keep on low heat until ready to serve.
  6. Cook the remaining egg noodles (1.5 lbs) in boiling water. If using fresh noodles, this will only take about 1 minute. Cook the noodles and drain immediately.
  7. Divide the noodles evenly into four bowls. Top with a generous portion of the chicken curry. Top with the crispy noodles you made in step 1 and serve with the shallots, cilantro, and wedge of lime.

Notes: * You can use whatever combination of chicken stock and coconut milk that you prefer, so long as the liquids total 32 oz. If you prefer a creamier, heartier curry use only coconut milk. If you prefer a lighter version of this dish use primarily chicken stock. ** The type of noodles that are traditionally served in this dish are similar to an egg noodle linguini. You should be able to find this type of noodle at an Asian grocery store.

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