Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles

This is without a doubt the most beautiful cookbook I've ever read. The authors have spent years traveling throughout Southeast Asia.  As they traveled they learned how to cook like the locals.  This book is part cookbook, part travel/photo essay, and it's gorgeous.  They follow the Mekong River, noticing how the cooking of the regions are similar, yet different as the river flows - sort of like we group Mediterranean cooking together.  There are similarities, yet each region has its own take on its dishes.  I happened upon this book via a new friend.  The first time we had lunch with their family, she has make a chicken noodle dish from us from this book.  The second time, she made an Indian dal dish from another of their books, Mangoes and Curry Leaves.  The cooking was so delicious and so what my husband and I enjoy that we ordered both books from Amazon. 
I decided that the first dish I cooked would be this soup from Northern Thailand.  It was quite simple to put together and very tasty.  It was even better the next day as the flavors really had a chance to melt together.

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
3 cups coconut milk, with 1/2 cup of the thickest milk set aside
1/2 pound boneless flavorful beef (sirloin tip or trimmed stewing beef), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
peanut oil for deep frying noodles (optional)
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (bamee)

Toppings and Condiments: Fried noodle nests
1/2 cup coursely chopped shallots
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup pickled cabbage (Thai style)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Finely mince the garlic, place in a small bowl with the tumeric, a pinch of salt and curry paste and mix well together.
Place a large heavy pot or wok over high heat.  Add the 1 tbsp oil and when it is hot, toss in the curry mixture.  Stir fry 30 seconds, then add the reserved 1/2 cup coconut milk and lower the heat to medium high.  Add the meat and sugar, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes, until the meat has changed color all over.  Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups coconut milk, the water, fish sauce and the remaining 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook at a strong simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.  (this soup can be prepared up to an hour ahead and then reheated just before serving).
Meanwhile make the crispy noodles (optional, but I heartily recommend them).  Place a plate lined with several layers of paper towels by your stove.  Place a large wok or heavy pot over high heat and add about a cup peanut oil, or 1/2 inch oil.  When the oil is hot, drop in a strand of uncooked noodle to test the temp.  It should sizzle slightly as it falls to the bottom and immediately puff and rise to the surface: adjust the heat if necessary.  Toss a handful (about 1 cup) of noodles into the oil and watch as they puff up.  Use a spatula or long tongs to turn them over and expose all of them to the hot oil.. They will crisp up very quickly (less than 1 minute).  Lift the crisped noodles out of the oil and place on paper towel lined plate.  Give the oil a moment to come back to temperature, and then repeat with a second handful of noodles.  (the noodles can be made ahead of time and left standing at room temperature for several hours).
To serve: bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil over high heat.  Drop in the remaining noodles (or all noodles, if you didn't make the crispy noodles), bring back to a boil and cook until tender but not mushy (about 6 minutes) - drain well.
Divide the drained noodles among 4 large bowls.  Ladle over the broth and meat.  Top with crispy noodles and a pinch each of the shallots and scallions (I just used shallots).  Serve with the remaining condiments set out in small bowls so guest can garnish their soup as they wish.  Provide each guest with chopsticks and a large spoon.


Katerina said...

This soup looks exotic and great. regarding the red peppers you can roast 3 and test. If you see the flavor too intense decrease to 2 if the flavor is mild increase to 4.

teresa said...

mmmm, this sounds fabulous!

Katy ~ said...

Yummm...sounds full of wonderful flavor and goodness.

Lori said...

That sounds really good right now!

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Donna (Texas) said...

Hello from Texas! This looks Delicious...Like your Blog!!
Have a great night!

Ingrid said...

Looks good. I'm learning to like soups and in looking over the ingredients this one is flavorful.

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