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Austin

Battle of the Khao Soi

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Spurned on by recent threads here at eGullet, me, a white guy in Bangkok, and Onigiri, a Thai girl in Iowa, have come close to digital blows regarding who can make the better khao soi. You can find the details at my blog, and the the malicious propaganda at hers. So to settle this dispute, we've decided to do just like they did in the old days; by an inter-blog cooking competition. We've already purchased the ingredients and today will make our respective khao sois. We will post the results on our blogs. There is only one winner.

Check our respective blogs, RealThai and Onigiri in a Fruits Basket, soon, to see the results.

Austin

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Why not post the pictures and results here, as well? Unless you're also fishing for a few more hits to your blogs...

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Here, in Southern California, one might be able to give you a run for your money.

But, can anything but the most basic ingredients be found in Iowa?

I know our friend in Nebraska can't find anything!


For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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Could do, but I find ImageGullet kind of pain. The format offered at my blog is much easier.

Fishing for hits? I don't even know how to count how many people visit my blog! Would you mind teaching me how?

Austin

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Stupid American: Does one refer to yourself or restaurants in southern California?  Interested in joining the brawl?  Post your pics here, if you dare!

Austin

I was just commenting on the access to Thai ingredients we have here. With the exception of a few banned fruits, there isn't much that can't be found in fresh abundance!

I have SEAsian friends all over the Midwest, and constantly here complaints about lack of ingredients.

As stated before, I don't care for khao soy. There is actually a restaurant in Santa Ana that does have it on their menu. I haven't tried it, but what I have eaten there has been excellent.

When in SoCal, I have been known to whip up a killer batch of pad kee mow. My wife does great ladna and pad see ewe.

In Bangkok, about all I cook is American stuff. With the availability of fresh, hot entrees everywhere, I've never really consider cooking Thai there.


For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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*sigh* And he (Austin) says I am talking smack. I ask you all ... what's a poor innocent, sweet Thai girl like me to do? Of course I have to defend the honor of all Thais out there. I mean if I White guy can cook better than a Thai girl what hope is there for the future of Thai cuisine? Next thing you know Thai people will be thinking that butter is an acceptable ingredient in Thai cuisine! (Not that there is anything wrong with butter especially Plugra but umm... in Thailand it's not commonly used.)

Prasatin - of course Austin is an attention *****! I do agree though that on blogspot it is easier to post pictures and step by step byplays. Maybe we can post a finished dish here for all to judge? What do you think Austin?

S. American - I went shopping for the ingredients tonight. I'll be using Pim's recipe and most of the stuff is easy to find in any asian market. I've been pretty lucky that Iowa has a good population of Vietnamese (the govenor during the Vietnam War invited refugees to settle here so theres quite a large community) people. There's quite a few thai groceries and vietnamese ones in Des Moines (capital of state) so I can get just about anything I've needed so far. If you friend in NE doesn't mind a drive tell him to try Double Dragon in Des Moines on 2nd street. They have the best selection I've seen. Great fresh vegetables. I even found japanese yams there tonights (thinking I'll be trying those out sometime) and even premade dim sum which I had never seen before. Granted a lot of stuff is frozen and obviously imported but isn't too bad. I love that the place is owned by a Vietnamese, run by Loatians, and shopped in by just about every nationality in the state. There were at least 3 "white" couples, a few mixed race couples and asians of all nationalities there tonight. The only thing thats a little annoying is a lot of stuf is labeled in vietnamese so I have to figure stuff out by just looking at it or pray that someone was nice enough to put english labels too. I even picked up some phuk bung (water spinach?) which is my favorite thai veggie, fresh chicken feet, and bitter melon if that gives you an idea of whats available to me.

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To dispel the apparent fears that the Battle of the Khao Soi is being done to promote our respective blogs (?), I’ve decided to post the results here (as well as at my blog). Enjoy!

Khao soi is not necessarily difficult to make, but it is time consuming, as it incorporates a curry (which involves make a curry paste), a great deal of condiments, and noodles. Set aside an entire morning for making it (khao soi, for some reason, is never eaten at dinner in Thailand). The recipe below will make enough khao soi for two hungry people.

The khreuang kaeng, or curry paste, is the most important part of a curry. Below are the raw ingredients that will make up my khao soi curry paste:

gallery_29586_2388_2015.jpg

And a list:

Cha ko (a kind of spice), shelled 1

Coriander (cilantro) seeds 2 Tbsp

Big dried chilies 4-6

Chopped ginger 1 heaping Tbsp

Chopped turmeric 1 heaping Tbsp

Shallots 9

Salt 1 Tbsp

Curry powder 2 tsp

Take each of the curry paste ingredients except for the salt and curry powder, and dry-roast individually until fragrant and browned:

gallery_29586_2388_16560.jpg

Using a mortar and pestle, combine all of the curry paste ingredients until they result in a fine, thick paste:

gallery_29586_2388_21402.jpg

This is a long, boring process that will inevitably send pieces of smashed chili flying directly into your eyes. The result is your curry paste. Set it aside.

Now prepare the condiments. First, the chilies in oil: take about 30 or so small dried chilies and dry-roast in the same wok until dark and fragrant but not black and burnt. Grind these up quite finely using a clean dry mortar and pestle. Using the same wok, add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, heat until just about to smoke, then add the ground chilies and stir until fragrant, but not burnt, about one to two minutes:

gallery_29586_2388_14913.jpg

Remove to a clean dry heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.

Wash, dry, and coarsely chop cilantro and green onions. Peel and chop about 10 shallots. Drain and coarsely chop the pickled mustard greens. Slice a few limes. Arrange all of these on a dish. These are your condiments:

gallery_29586_2388_7283.jpg

Now it’s time for the soup. Take about a 3/4 of a cup of thick coconut milk and heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble and simmer. Add the curry paste ingredients:

gallery_29586_2388_14741.jpg

Continue stirring until the liquid is reduced considerably, and a film of oil has begun to form:

gallery_29586_2388_19586.jpg

This may take as long as 10 to 15 minutes. Be patient! This is a very important step and ensures that the oils of the various ingredients will be released, making a more fragrant curry.

When a fair amount of oil has pooled, add your meat, in this case four to six small chicken thighs, and fry in the oily paste for about five minutes:

gallery_29586_2388_23248.jpg

Take another half cup of thick coconut milk and dilute with about three cups of water. Add this to the saucepan:

gallery_29586_2388_17668.jpg

Bring to a light boil, turn the heat down as low as possible, and simmer. After about 10 minutes or so, taste the soup and add salt or see ew khao, a kind of soy sauce, or sugar, if necessary.

While the broth is simmering, it’s time to do the noodles. Khao soi noodles, a flat squiggly egg noodle, are notoriously hard to find, even in Thailand. A good substitute is the fresh egg noodles called ba mee. Bring a large pot full of water to a boil, separate the fresh noodles, plunge into the boiling water and boil for about five minutes:

gallery_29586_2388_20558.jpg

Drain well and set aside in colander (the noodles can be made in advance and quickly re-boiled at eating time, if necessary).

Put a generous serving of the noodles in a bowl, top with one chicken thigh and lotsa broth, and you’re done! How diners choose to flavor their khao soi with condiments is up to them. Personally, I like lots of lime and lots of chili:

gallery_29586_2388_2421.jpg

So whaddaya got, Onigiri?

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Wow... Some action! Love it. :biggrin:

Since I'm the least qualified of you guys to make a convincing Khao Soi (I am a French girl not even living in Bangkok and I'm back home presently, not even there anymore!), with the added handicap that I've never made one in my whole life, let alone tasted one, I feel all the more eager to join in. So many obstacles, so much excitement.

As a tribute to my dear friend khun Pim, I'll follow the recipe on her blog. I absolutely trust her cooking skills and knowledge. When Pim was in Paris recently, we missed a wonderful opportunity of cooking a Thai meal together and taking pictures. The missed opportunity was entirely my fault. I won't be doing this to make up for the loss, but as a symbolic way to compensate somehow.

So I'll post my khao soi on my blog when I have gathered the ingredients, but here's my question: how do we judge the results of the contest?

Edit: yes, of course I'll post the pics here too! :rolleyes:


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Wow... Some action! Love it. :biggrin:

Since I'm the least qualified of you guys to make a convincing Khao Soi (I am a French girl not even living in Bangkok and I'm back home presently, not even there anymore!), with the added handicap that I've never made one in my whole life, let alone tasted one, I feel all the more eager to join in. So many obstacles, so much excitement.

As a tribute to my dear friend khun Pim, I'll follow the recipe on her blog. I absolutely trust her cooking skills and knowledge. When Pim was in Paris recently, we missed a wonderful opportunity of cooking a Thai meal together and taking pictures. The missed opportunity was entirely my fault. I won't be doing this to make up for the loss, but as a symbolic way to compensate somehow.

So I'll post my khao soi on my blog when I have gathered the ingredients, but here's my question: how do we judge the results of the contest?

Edit: yes, of course I'll post the pics here too!  :rolleyes:

Alright! I can't wait to see a French girl's khao soi. Hope you won't have any difficulty getting the ingredients where you are. The only thing I wouldn't be able to get in a local supermarket is the fresh noodles and the pickled mustard green (both essential to this dish) so good luck!

Wow you've eaten Pi Pim's cooking, I'm jealous. Her food always looks divine and I'm a great fan of her blog. Can't wait to see what she shows us when she's in Thailand.

** see I'm too nice to have talked smack to Austin**

Oh and slight change of plans, I'm off to visit a friend but I'll make the khao soi as soon as I get home and get everything posted later this afternoon.

And NO Austin, I'm NOT deliberately delaying my khao soi debut. But I do want time to pretty the dish up. My reputation as a Thai girl on the line and all...

edited for spelling because i's so edumacted.


Edited by OnigiriFB (log)

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Alright! I can't wait to see a French girl's khao soi. Hope you won't have any difficulty getting the ingredients where you are. The only thing I wouldn't be able to get in a local supermarket is the fresh noodles and the pickled mustard green (both essential to this dish) so good luck!

In Paris, you can get everything necessary to cook decent Thai food. Produce is flown in from Thailand regularly and in abundance. An essential ingredient that we missed until recently was coriander roots, but now it is possible to find it. So basically everything is available.

Wow you've eaten Pi Pim's cooking, I'm jealous. Her food always looks divine and I'm a great fan of her blog. Can't wait to see what she shows us when she's in Thailand.

I haven't eaten Pim's cooking yet (too busy visiting Paris wine bistrots with her) but I do have a precious jar of her chilli paste. I treasure it. Still, I can't find any recipe for red curry paste on her blog so I suppose I'll have to use a ready-made paste.

I think I won't make the khao soi for a couple of days. Jetlag, going out tomorrow night, and I'm not expecting to win the competition anyway (all the more since I still do not know how we'll find out who has won). You guys are certainly too good. But it's nice to play.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Alright my khao soi was made and consumed. Aroi mak mak! Here's a picture of the finished dish. Sorry but if you want to see more the rest is on my blog. It was just too painful to do it fully on eGullet. Besides it's just one click away!

gallery_39656_2144_190357.jpg

So Austin what do you think now?

Hope everyone tries this out and enjoys it. I had a blas doing this challenge and enjoyed eating the finished product even more!

Please see my blog if you want to see the making of and my funny "interview" with Alton Brown.

My blog

Edited to correct embarressing mistake of typing in blog addy incorrect. Thanks Pan.


Edited by OnigiriFB (log)

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You linked to onigiri.blogspot.com, not to your own blogspot. I'm posting this in case others are as confused as I was.

Also, did you go through all the steps Austin did? I see only three photos on your blog.


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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You linked to onigiri.blogspot.com, not to your own blogspot. I'm posting this in case others are as confused as I was.

Also, did you go through all the steps Austin did? I see only three photos on your blog.

The only thing I didn't do was make my own curry paste. So I won't make a good Thai daughter-in-law. Shoot me. :raz:

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So in that respect, Austin has you beat!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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IMHO, although neither used khao soy noodles, Austin's had more of the curry consistency I associate with khao soy.

OnigiriFB's appeared more of a soup.


Edited by Stupid_American (log)

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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I noticed that both versions omit the deep-fried noodles. Is this more of a condiment and not an essential part of khao soi? I've been thinking about making this dish for quite some time, but was put off by the deep-fried noodles (I dislike deep-frying).

Also, is the dish typically made with a wide or narrow noodle? Fresh noodles are the norm, I take it?


Edited by sanrensho (log)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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Sorry coming into this late...

P'titpois: Really looking forward to seeing your version! Be sure to post the like or the results here.

Sanrensho: Yes, you're right, we're both lazy and didn't bother to deep fry the noodles... I reckon this is an essential part of khao soi (buy it up north and you'll always get the crispy noodles), but adding even more oil to the dish was just too much for me! Real khao soi noodles are flat.

Onigiri: I've had a total change of heart and would like to declare that, for the sake of khao soi, there be no winners and loosers. Hopefully we can use khao soi as a vehicle to end poverty and create unity and peace in the world.

Just kidding... I won! In your face! Nyah nyah nyah ahaha..

Austin

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Sorry coming into this late... 

P'titpois:  Really looking forward to seeing your version!  Be sure to post the like or the results here.

Sure will. The text on my blog will be in French but I'll post a translated version here. And, believe me, ça va faire mal ! :cool:

Onigiri: I've had a total change of heart and would like to declare that, for the sake of khao soi, there be no winners and loosers.  Hopefully we can use khao soi as a vehicle to end poverty and create unity and peace in the world.

Just kidding... I won! In your face! Nyah nyah nyah ahaha..

Hey. You won so far. Wait for my version.

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I've enjoyed your competition and your blogs. Both dishes look great but since I can't really taste them all I can do is give one more point to Austin for making the curry paste from scratch.

I just went through all 10 of my Thai cookbooks (I went a little crazy when I first tasted Thai food.) and none of them have a recipe for Khao Soi. Guess I'll have to get another book. :biggrin:

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Due to the fact that most food stores are closed on Mondays in France, I haven't been able to gather all ingredients yet. Also, I do need a proper Thai mortar and pestle to make the curry paste from scratch, and the ones I have found were all too small.

Tomorrow I'll go hunting for remaining ingredients and the mortar. Sorry for the delay, folks.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Oooo someone wants to make khao soi! Yes, someone else has got to show up Austin. *sigh* Alas, this poor Thai girl is so ashamed at not making her own kreung gang.

In my defence, I would like to say that I did this contest mainly to show my my blog audience how easy it is to make khao soi no matter where you live. Austin, living in Thailand, with it's abundance of fresh vegetables might have an easier time making curry paste then someone in po-dunk Iowa. Not to mention the fact that many of my readers (san eGulleteers) wouldn't know what a mortar and pestle is! By using store brought curry paste I didn't have to post a complicated ingredients list. I also know that major supermarkets in the States actually carry red curry paste making it easier for the average cook to give this one a try. Otherwise, many of my friends think whats available at Thai restaurants (good and bad) as authentic while it may not be. I'm hoping the exposure of my blog plus what Austin can create in Thailand will let others know that you Thai food is not all that complicated, but at least more authentic then what commonly found in Thai restaurants in the States. Khun Pim's recipes, without having to make my own curry paste, was a cinch. Took all of twenty minutes of cook time and all the ingredients could be purchased at the supermarket minus the noodles (which you could substitue with ramen or even fresh linguine noodles) and the pickled mustard greens (umm no idea what a sub for this would be). Either way, neither Austin nor I, had nothing to gain by doing this. We just, like many of you, like Thai food, have blogs, and wanted to share. And it was also a lot of fun, ribbing each other back and forth. So in the end I feel we are both winners.

[Onigiri's non-diplomatic side chimes in: Whatever! I declare a mistrial! There were only TWO people who judged! This isn't over by a long shot Austin! I refuse to submit to defeat! Just you wait... ]

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