Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Khao Soi (or Khao Soy): Fabulous Thai curry

Have you ever mentioned to someone leaving to visit a region of the world to make sure they do or try THIS while they are there? I have given and taken suggestions for a location or dish too many times to count. But how often have you actually followed through on it? I am always happy when I do, and this discovery was no exception. Before we left of Thailand a good friend of ours highly recommended searching out a Northern Thai curry soup called Khao Soi. Justin, being the offical traveling meal planner, had us on the look-out on day one in Chaing Mai.

We were lucky to be staying in a guest house across the street from a restaurant called Just Khao Soy, if you can believe it. This was a great place to get aquainted with the dish. The yellow, coconut curry is served over egg noodles and chicken and topped with fried egg noodles. Then the diner can select from the "pallet" (yes it really is served on a wooden artist's pallet, see above) to enhance the soup. Pickled cabbage, lime wedges, chopped shallots, and chile paste can all be mixed in. The result is a mind blowingly delicious soup. Creamy, crunchy, salty, and tangy all at once.

After our initation into Khao Soi, we sought it out continally. Even in the extreme heat, the soup was too good to pass up. Lucky for us, when we arrived at cooking school our instructor was more then happy to teach us how to make the soup.

We have made it a few times so far and it is just as delicious in Oregon as it was in Thailand! We made our own curry paste for this dish, but in order to simplify things a bit I am suggesting a good, pre-made yellow curry paste. (Cheap, delicious, and lasts forever in the fridge.) If you would like to have the Khao Soy curry paste recipe, just let me know and I will get it up on here.

Note: About pickled cabbage. I found that it is called pickled cabbage, but is actually more like a choy or mustard green. I was lucky enough to literally stumble over a jar of pickled mustard greens in the Asian market. They really are key to the balance of flavors so try to search it out. Here are some available online.

Note 2.0: About fried noodles. It is sort of a pain to fry a handful of noodles. If you don't want to do that I would toss a handful of those crunchy "Chinese" fried noodles folks like to put on salads. It will give it the same crunch. Not as good, but a great way to try it out.

This soup comes together in a few minutes once it is all prepped, it is great to make with friends. It makes the whole house smell amazing!

Khao Soy
1 lb fresh egg noodles, fetticine width or thinner
3-4 tablespoons mild yellow curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 large can, or 2 smaller cans of coconut milk (not lite), labeled For Cooking if you can find it.
1 quart chicken stock
2 large chicken breasts, sliced very thinly
1-2 tablespoons sugar
salt or fish sauce to taste

peeled, quartered shallots (2-3 per person)
pickled mustard greens, cut into bite sized pieces (1/4 - 1/2 cup per person)
1 lime, cut into wedges
chili paste
Deep fried egg noodles, or "Chinese" fried salad noodles

1. If frying the noodles, separate about 1 cup of fresh egg noodles from the rest. Deep fry for 30 seconds, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain. Set aside
2. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. This is to cook the rest of the noodles.
3. In soup pot, heat about a teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Add curry paste, curry powder, and black pepper and cook until very fragrant. About 1 minute.
4. Add chicken, cook until done. About 2-3 minutes.
5. Add stock and coconut milk. Heat until almost boiling.
6. Taste and add sugar and salt as needed. Remember that the toppings will also affect the flavor. You may want to bring sugar and salt to the table.
7. Cook egg noodles in boiling water. Drain.

To serve: Put a large handful of noodles into a bowl (the bigger the better!). Spoon soup and chicken over the top. Top with fried noodles. At the table add pickled greens, a squeeze or 2 of lime, chopped shallots, and chili paste to taste. Enjoy!


  1. We are going to try this for lunch on Saturday. I think I've died and gone to heaven.

  2. I hope you like it as much as I do, let me know how it turns out!

  3. Thank you for this recipe!


  4. I would love to know if like it as much as I do. I am making it for dinner tonight.

  5. I really want to try this very soon. We have a Vietnamese Pho restaurant up the street from our house, and this seems like a Thai version that we would love! My only question is, the yellow curry paste I have is actually spicy, not mild. Should I just use less of it? Should I skip the extra curry powder? Advice please!

  6. I would use less of the yellow curry and a mild curry powder. Let me know how it turns out!

  7. I loved Khao Soy when I was in Thailand. My husband loved it even more, so when I took the same cooking class you did in Chiang Mai (, he made me learn how to make it.

    You're right, it couldn't be more simple. For those looking for a pre-made curry paste, avoid the Thai Kitchen brand - too spicy and not enough fragrant flavors. Mae Ploy makes better curry pastes.