Burmese Noodle Bowl

January 30, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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 pounds 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
In This Recipe
  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.
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