Burmese Noodle Bowl

By • January 30, 2013 • 22 Comments


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Author Notes: Khau Swe, as these noodles are called, originate from the Golden Triangle area that encompasses Myanmar and Thailand. I slurped a bowlful in Chiang Mai, but Myanmar is
still a mystery to me. I hope you enjoy my hearty spoon and fork soup.
nykavi

Food52 Review: Nykavi's brilliant "fork and spoon" soup is genuine cold winter Sunday fare. It was also quite an education for me: I've never prepared a soup's vegetable base in this way before (I didn't have shrimp paste, so I used shrimp powder instead) . The flavor changes remarkably as a result, and nothing interferes, texture-wise, with the tender chunks of chicken, bits of boiled egg, and silken rice noodles. The brazen 2 tablespoons of chili powder first caught my eye; I even added a few drops of Sambal Olek, too. In short, I love this soup, and I am so glad to have precious leftovers in the freezer. Thank you, nykavi, for taking me outside my comfort zone into a brand new one.boulangere

Serves 4 hungry people

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belachan)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 packet rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced and fried to a crisp
  • 3 eggs, boiled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
  • 2 limes, quartered
  1. Peel and chop the onions and garlic cloves into chunks. The size doesn't matter as they are to be ground.
  2. Place the onions, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and water in a blender or food processor. Pulse well till you have a smooth paste.
  3. Clean and chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Wash well and drain.
  4. Heat canola and sesame oils in a Dutch oven.
  5. Add the onion paste and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes to get the rawness out of the onions.
  6. Add turmeric and chili powder . Stir to incorporate them into onion mix.
  7. The chicken goes in next. Sauté the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well to coat with spice mixture.
  8. Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water . Stir well and bring the soup to a boil.
  9. Lower the flame, and let the soup come to a simmer .
  10. Cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Fill a large, deep saucepan with water and bring to a boil on a high flame.
  12. Add rice noodles to the boiling water. Take the saucepan off the heat and let rice noodles steep in water for 20 minutes. Drain well and keep aside.
  13. Assemble the soup with a large helping of rice noodles in a soup bowl. Top with ladlefuls of soup. The noodles should swim in coconut broth. Add pieces of chicken. Garnish with fried shallots, chopped egg, a sprinkling of chili powder, some cilantro, and a large squirt of lime juice.

Comments (22) Questions (1)

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5 months ago nykavi

Hi Don
It's always reassuring to hear great feedback. A new twist makes life interesting!! Slurp away!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Thanks for the vote of confidence SallyNyan. I used to make an earlier version with fish sauce and chickpea flour but I prefer the belachan paste. I love and cook Burmese food. I hope I could talk to you about my discrepancies .

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about 1 year ago SallyNyan

Of course! Message me whenever you need to check something! :)

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about 1 year ago SallyNyan

As a Burmese who routinely cooks traditional food, I can confirm that recipe is quite accurate!
I'd like to suggest a few alterations, though. Now I can't confirm this for the Thai version, but the traditional Burmese version doesn't typically use belacan. Instead, we use a powder made from ground yellow lentils, chicken stock and fish sauce. A vegetarian version can be made by substituting soy sauce and veggie stock for fish , and dried tofu skin for chicken. We also use yellow, wheat noodles instead of white, rice noodles. :)

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about 1 year ago Musebe

I don't have balacan handy, would you know how much soy sauce and veggie stock to use in lieu of the paste?

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about 1 year ago SallyNyan

I don't have a set recipe (I usually cook to taste), but I'd say about 1-1.5 cups of stock (you'll be replacing .5 a cup of the water in the recipe) and 2-3 tbsps--or to taste--of soy sauce. This is just my guesstimation. Nykavi, if you've got any further suggestions, feel free to jump in! This is your recipe after all!

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about 1 year ago Musebe

Thank you for the clarification!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Abeth, good to know that every recipe lives another life! Enjoy

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about 1 year ago abeth

I have made this soup twice. My 10-year-old daugther loves it, and it tastes even better the next day. I don't have shrimp paste and use anchovy paste instead--it works for us!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Rice noodle packing comes in so many sizes.. I use a Vietnamese brand with 12 individual servings. You do get 1 and 2 lb packages too. We usually have just the soup for dinner so I always make the entire package so we have leftovers. I would say for 4 people a pound should suffice. I hope this helps.

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about 1 year ago kat3029

How many ounces is in a packet of rice noodles? I'd love to make this, but am unsure if a packet is the same measurement everywhere and don't want to add way too few or way too many noodles.

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about 1 year ago nykavi

The soup is a breeze to freeze! With or without the chicken. It stays well up to a month

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about 1 year ago mitchlund

Looks delicious. Did you freeze the base solo?

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Shows how you can take something and make it your own!!! It's wonderful to see your take . I love both that and your kind words!

Dscn2212

about 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I loved your soup on a very deep level. As I mentioned in the review, it took me way outside my comfort zone, which is actually why I chose it to test and also why I loved it so. New methods, new flavor combinations, new textures, what's ultimately not to love? I completely loved it and was grateful to have been able to both test it and fold it into my repertoire.

Dscn2212

about 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

P.S. I love those hot flavor notes!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Thank you Cynthia... I hope you got to try it? And it feels great to be in vaulted company.

Dscn2212

about 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congratulations on a much-deserved Community Pick!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Thanks savorthis... It truly is a soul satisfying soup bowl!

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about 1 year ago savorthis

This sounds soulful and delicious!

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about 1 year ago nykavi

Oops ... Some slips of the fingers... Chicken Thighs should be in pounds not packets... And the shallots should be thinly sliced prior to frying...