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Austin

Battle of the Khao Soi

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This certainly isn't over (Austin, what are you writing on your blog? The battle is NOT over!). Wait till I find my mortar, which is certainly waiting for me somewhere on a shelf on avenue d'Ivry... But even if I don't find it tomorrow, I'll use my Italian marble mortar, so don't consider yourselves safe yet.

Also, to comfort Onigiri a bit, I believe things are a wee bit easier for Austin, with the availability and freshness of ingredients. I think cooking Thai food is not complicated, but you do have to get the right ingredients, and their quality and freshness makes all the difference.

I would have liked to try khun Pim's recipe for red curry paste, but I can't seem to find it on her blog. She does give out her recipe for green curry paste though. I'll have to find another source and adapt it to my needs (I've already found out what cha ko is, and fresh turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, phrik khii nuu and makrut limes are dozing in my fridge).

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THanks Ptipois! Umm... will an italian marble mortar be able to withstand the pouding? Thai mortars are rock solid and wiegh a ton. I'd be scared of cracking marble one.

Hrm I swear she has one! But I don't think its linked. If I remember right she made red curry for a Thai dinner in London. But when that was I have no idea. I read through her entire blog this summer so it might have been in the beginning or something. Sorry I know I'm not a lot of help. Maybe you can email her? She's one up on me since I have no idea the exact ingredients of kreung gang. Our cook (who I used to hang out with in the kitchen to try and absorb knowledge from) never measured. She just threw a bunch of stuff in this claypot to roast it and then dumped it into a mortar. Occasionally she would give me the priviledge of pounding the curry into paste. (It can be a fun way to get your exercise in and frustrations out! Always wondered how an 80 lb woman could lift these huge bags of rice and heavy pots of curry. I think making your own paste gives a person a good workout. :raz: )

PS If you email Pii Pim ask her if she's been sneezing a lot lately. We Thais have a saying that if you sneeze once someone is thinking about you, if you sneeze twice someone is talking about you behind your back. I'm sure she's been sneezing up a storm! :laugh:

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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?

I'm sorry I must have missed this post somehow. Umm.. I er.. forgot! Totally spaced tthe fried noodles. I knew I was missing some crunch factor but beyond that they don't add much. You can substitue chow mein noodles found in grocery stores instead of frying your own. I recall khao soi in Chiang Mai using narrow flat noodles that look similar to linguine noodles. Yes fresh noodles are the norm. But you can substitue whatever you would like to use. In a pinch for fresh noodles I've been known to boil some 10 cent ramen noodles (leave out the flavoring package) and using those in various things. While this may not be authentic you'll still get the flavors of the dish as long as the curry follows the recipes. THe only thing I really think you NEED is the pickled mustard green. Without it the dish seems a bit one note and flat to me. Then again that might be my palate. Hope you give it a try! :smile:

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THanks Ptipois! Umm... will an italian marble mortar be able to withstand the pouding? Thai mortars are rock solid and wiegh a ton. I'd be scared of cracking marble one.

This one was bought in Nice and has already suffered the pounding of a good dozen aïolis. I wouldn't worry about it. But I still think that using a Thai mortar will be more effective. And I need to get one, anyway.

Maybe you can email her? She's one up on me since I have no idea the exact ingredients of kreung gang.

I would email her allright but she seems to be inbetween California and Thailand now, so I don't know when I can actually reach her.

Always wondered how an 80 lb woman could lift these huge bags of rice and heavy pots of curry.

I have very similar thoughts whenever a tiny masseuse digs her elbows into my calves in the Wat Pho massage room.

PS If you email Pii Pim ask her if she's been sneezing a lot lately. We Thais have a saying that if you sneeze once someone is thinking about you, if you sneeze twice someone is talking about you behind your back. I'm sure she's been sneezing up a storm! :laugh:

I'll ask her. What do Thais say about sneezing three times?

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PS If you email Pii Pim ask her if she's been sneezing a lot lately. We Thais have a saying that if you sneeze once someone is thinking about you, if you sneeze twice someone is talking about you behind your back. I'm sure she's been sneezing up a storm! :laugh:

I'll ask her. What do Thais say about sneezing three times?

then ya must have a cold! :raz:

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Well, as a matter of fact, I do have a cold. Going down by about 30 degrees Celsius in twelve hours sure is hard. But that didn't prevent me from completing my khao soi tonight, after making the curry paste in the morning.

I'll send you to my blog for all the photos, there's quite a few. It starts with a prologue introducing the belligerents. Then comes the pounding of the curry paste. And finally the making of the dish.

You'll find the whole post here.

Here's a summary.

The curry ingredients:

05_ingr.frais.jpg

The pounding:

08_krok3.jpg

The finished curry paste:

10_krok5.jpg

Frying the curry paste:

2_curry.jpg

Stirring it with the coconut milk;

4_stir.jpg

Chicken begins stewing:

6_poulet.jpg

Frying some noodles and chillies:

7_ba_mi.jpg

8_chilis.jpg

Et voilà !

13_fini.jpg

14_fini.jpg

And the winner is?...


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Very nice! You even did the fried noodles which me and Austin left out. Good job Ptipois. But the questions is... how did it taste? This was your first time trying it out right? Did you like? I've been eating mine for the past few days and find that the curry sauce gets better as it sits. In fact, I think it's time for a late dinner of khao soi. Austin, the bum, left for the southern part of Thailand on Monday and then he's off to Laos for a bit so dunno when he'll be back to see how you did. Personally I think we are all winners for making the dish!

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Very nice! You even did the fried noodles which me and Austin left out.

My first intention was to leave them out as you both did. But I had never deep-fried noodles before and I had a little oil left, so why not take a couple of minutes to do it? Also, I realized that (as is usually the case) each element of the dish has its function and is important in the final taste and texture. That is the case of the deep-fried noodles, they do add a dimension to the khao soi, and, just like the pickled mustard and the shallots, they help make it complete (you eG jury out there, please take note!).

Good job Ptipois. But the questions is... how did it taste?

It tasted heavenly. We adored it. The two bowls were literally devoured and my son had seconds. The combination of tastes and textures is amazing: three different kinds of crunch (shallots, pickled mustard, fried noodles), two kinds of sweet (the coconut curry sauce and the sweet sulphurousness of the shallots), of tender (chicken, noodles), the acidity of lime meeting the sourness of pickled mustard, plus the aromas of shallot, coriander, and spices... That is one of the most complex (tastewise) dishes I've ever tried. And it's so easy to put together, as long as you've got the curry paste made. Also, I was lucky enough to find some imported Thai coriander with roots and leaves; that makes a difference. The taste is stronger, the leaves are firmer, and they may be eaten as a salad.

Now I don't know if I did win, but at least I believe I would be acceptable as a Thai daughter-in-law (don't brood Onigiri, I'm absolutely sure you'd be too, in spite of the ready-made curry paste!)

This was your first time trying it out right? Did you like? I've been eating mine for the past few days and find that the curry sauce gets better as it sits. In fact, I think it's time for a late dinner of khao soi.

Coconut curry sauces seem to reheat very well.

Austin, the bum, left for the southern part of Thailand on Monday and then he's off to Laos for a bit so dunno when he'll be back to see how you did. Personally I think we are all winners for making the dish!

Indeed, we all win. However I'm looking forward to hearing his opinion when he comes back. After all, hey, I fried the darn noodles!


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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What a fun and informative thread seeing this Thai cook-off with participants in Thailand, Iowa and Paris! Now I have a new Thai dish that I must try as well...

Thank you all for linking to recipes and for showing steps of the dish as well as the finale! I looked in one of my Thai cookbooks and interestingly they used stew beef rather than chicken. Is this a known version or just an American cookbook ("True Thai by Victor Sodsook)variant? (I did notice that Pim mentioned on her site that it is *usually* made with chicken).

Each of you raised the bar in some way so it is too difficult to proclaim a real winner in my eyes... Of course I also have no qualifications to judge really...

Congrats and thank you!

edited to add:

After posting, I noticed this comment from snowangel on the khao soi/pad thai noodle thread (click):

I had my first Khao Soi in Chieng Mai in the late 1960's, and the taste of that dish has stayed with me. I've had it, in Chieng Mai, with beef or chicken, and I'm not sure which I prefer.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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What a fun and informative thread seeing this Thai cook-off with participants in Thailand, Iowa and Paris!  Now I have a new Thai dish that I must try as well...

Thank you all for linking to recipes and for showing steps of the dish as well as the finale!  I looked in one of my Thai cookbooks and interestingly they used stew beef rather than chicken.  Is this a known version or just an American cookbook ("True Thai by Victor Sodsook)variant?  (I did notice that Pim mentioned on her site that it is *usually* made with chicken).

Each of you raised the bar in some way so it is too difficult to proclaim a real winner in my eyes...  Of course I also have no qualifications to judge really...

Congrats and thank you!

Hi Ludja,

Welcome to our battle khao soi thread. I hope you try it out! You can make khao soi with beef also my personally preference is just chicken. No worries about the judging I just hope people with try the dish as it's one of my favorites. If you try it I hope you will post pictures for us to see. :smile:

Onigiri

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Thanks Onigiri!

I cross-posted my edit with you... Picturing the dish, I think I might like it better with chicken as well. I'll definately post a photo if I make it anytime soon; I'm excited to become aware of this dish through the thread.

edited to add: I also enjoyed perusing your's and Austin's Thai blogs.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Yes, I'm on the road, but I'm not a bum! I'm in Phuket now taking photos for a book on southern Thai food.

Khao soi is traditionally only made with chicken or beef, which shows the Muslim origins of the dish. Chicken is the most popular (although I prefer beef) and pork has recently made inroads.

P'titpois: I've only had a brief glance, but your khao soi looks fantastic! And I reckon, figuring as you're not Thai, nor are you in Thailand, and considering the fact that YOU ACTUALLY FRIED THE NOODLES, maybe you're the winner?

Austin

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P'titpois: I've only had a brief glance, but your khao soi looks fantastic!  And I reckon, figuring as you're not Thai, nor are you in Thailand, and considering the fact that YOU ACTUALLY FRIED THE NOODLES, maybe you're the winner?

Well, thanks!

Although I think all our khao soi were wonderful, each one very personalized though very authentic. And certainly all three were delicious.

(Seriously: yaaaaaay! I won!)

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Yes, I'm on the road, but I'm not a bum!  I'm in Phuket now taking photos for a book on southern Thai food.

Khao soi is traditionally only made with chicken or beef, which shows the Muslim origins of the dish.  Chicken is the most popular (although I prefer beef) and pork has recently made inroads.

P'titpois: I've only had a brief glance, but your khao soi looks fantastic!  And I reckon, figuring as you're not Thai, nor are you in Thailand, and considering the fact that YOU ACTUALLY FRIED THE NOODLES, maybe you're the winner?

Austin

Sorry to be off topic for khao soi...

If you go to Nakhon, do make a point to go to the restaurant accross the street from Nakhon Garden Inn (a really nice, economical place to stay). I don't remember the name of it, the signage is only in Thai, but it displays the seafood on the sidewalk and is a little way past the water purifying place. They specialize in southern dishes that my friend who grew up in Bangkok wasn't familiar with. We put ourselves at the mercy of the proprietress and ate extremely well. If you have a tender tongue, beware, it was hotter then some of the very hot food we ate in the kitchens of the national parks we visited (where they don't know how to change the food for farangs) and it even made the SE Asian in the group pant a little. The bitter herbs and nutlike root things (would love to know what that was)served with one of the sour curries had a way of erasing the burn that was astounding. On it's own it made your mouth pucker like an unripe persimmon, with the soup/curry, it was pleasant.

regards,

trillium

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I've been lurking this thread for a while now, all the while trying to find a local place that serves the dish. In that you have inspired us to think about, talk about, and most certainly not least, SEEK OUT khao soi, you are all victors! (But for sheer visual enticement, I do have to give the nod to Austin - but he has sort of an unfair advantage, doesn't he?)

I managed at last to find a local restaurant that serves the stuff, and I must say it was a bit of a letdown, but I think it might be more execution than idea. My khao soi was VERY brothy, served with only one wedge of lime, (i.e., not enough to provide a foil to the creaminess and richness of the curry broth - remedied easily enough, but first impressions...) and no pickled vegetables. It was all around a little sloppy, but I'm not giving up on khao soi yet.

Ingredients are accessible and plentiful in these parts (So Cal), so I think I'll have to buckle down and actually make some for myself.

Thanks to all of you for the education and entertainment!

P.S. I'll be in Phuket in April, so I'll be looking forward to more Southern Thai Food posts on your blog, Austin.


sg

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bottomlesspit: Don't give up on khao soi yet! Frankly, it sounds like you got ripped off! There must be pickled vegetables, and I like two or even three pieces of lime. Try to make it yourself using our three blogs as guides, I'm sure it will be better.

I was in Phuket City for the last couple days and was actually let down by the food... There were a couple of good places, but for the most part I found the food mediocre. In general I was surprised to find that downtown Phuket City seems to have fewer Thai restaurants than most other Thai towns! I'm in Phanggna now, which is a tiny little town, but have already consumed more delicious food than I did in Phuket.

Austin

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First of all, thanks to OnigiriFB and Austin for starting this thread. We made khao soi for the first time and it was a great success. I'd always been turned off by the deep-fried noodles (I'm not a fan of deep-frying), so we just left it out. We used rice noodles, even though I know this is not the norm.

I will definitely be making this again. Interestingly, my 7-year old daughter is begging me to make khao soi again! (I had made a separate dish of padh si yeuw for the kids.) This is a great breakthrough as Thai curries have until now been beyond her tolerance for heat. Our 4-year old was even eating some of the noodles and chicken.

I've got some questions about the recipe:

1. The recipe I used calls for equal amounts coconut milk to chicken stock. I've also seen a lot of other khao soi recipes that call for chicken stock (instead of water). Is it normal to use water in Thailand?

2. What is the typical heat level for this dish in Thailand (referring to the basic broth)? Less heat than a typical green or red curry?

TIA


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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First of all, thanks to OnigiriFB and Austin for starting this thread. We made khao soi for the first time and it was a great success. I'd always been turned off by the deep-fried noodles (I'm not a fan of deep-frying), so we just left it out. We used rice noodles, even though I know this is not the norm.

I will definitely be making this again. Interestingly, my 7-year old daughter is begging me to make khao soi again! (I had made a separate dish of padh si yeuw for the kids.) This is a great breakthrough as Thai curries have until now been beyond her tolerance for heat. Our 4-year old was even eating some of the noodles and chicken.

I've got some questions about the recipe:

1. The recipe I used calls for equal amounts coconut milk to chicken stock. I've also seen a lot of other khao soi recipes that call for chicken stock (instead of water). Is it normal to use water in Thailand?

2. What is the typical heat level for this dish in Thailand (referring to the basic broth)? Less heat than a typical green or red curry?

TIA

Yay!! Another converted to the joy of khao soi! Umm, I've always used water. I don't recall using chicken stock much unless we are making a non-spicy soup. To make coconut milk you grate the coconut and then add water and squeeze the coconut milk out of it. So I think it makes more sense to just add water. I've always found this dish to be pretty mild. You get to decide the spice level with the addition of the chili pepper in oil. Compared to green or red curry this is way less heat. It should have a little kick in the back not much over all spiciness. I hope this becomes a something your family enjoys. Great to know that the kids liked it. I never thought about it but it would make a good transition into the spicier curries. :smile:

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I hope this becomes a something your family enjoys. Great to know that the kids liked it.  I never thought about it but it would make a good transition into the spicier curries. :smile:

Thanks for your comments.

This is getting slightly off track, but do Thai families use certain "tricks" to dial down the heat for kids? For instance, I know that Korean kids will dip their kim chi in water to lower the heat level. I'm sure that Thai kids are probably trained early on to deal with the heat, but do they every doctor the dishes for kids? Aside from the obvious things like leaving out chilis, would they water down a curry or add in some sugar?


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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Another weird question for OnigiriFB and Austin. This is purely an aesthetic issue, but the photos of khao soi that I've seen show a remarkable contrast between the red oil and the white of the coconut milk. (I realize that the red oil comes from the oil separation that occurs when boiling the coconut milk with the paste.)

I doubt this matters from a taste perspective, but how do they get the coconut milk to stay so white? Is it by holding back some of the coconut milk and adding it at the very last minute? Or is to do with using fresh (?) coconut milk?


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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I doubt this matters from a taste perspective, but how do they get the coconut milk to stay so white? Is it by holding back some of the coconut milk and adding it at the very last minute? Or is to do with using fresh (?) coconut milk?

Could you provide a link to photos where you see this? For I can't see any white coconut milk on any of the pictures that Austin, Onigiri or I provided. Coconut milk is mixed with the curry paste at the early stage of cooking, so that it gives its creamy opacity to the sauce, which is quite yellow-brown from the other ingredients. When you cook the sauce long enough, the red oil (red from the curry ingredients) does separate, but the sauce remains opaque from the coconut milk however long you cook it.

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Good question. In our family it was common for our cook to make a few non spicy dishes or soup for the children. It was rare for her to doctor any of the spicy dishes for the kids. There were a couple of times she would do so if especially requested like on someone's birthday (we got to choose the menu that day). Generally Thai kids learn to handle spicy foods quite early. I had a few cousin that ate spicier than I did when they were eight! I joke around that I'll be eating at the kid's table when I come home since living in the states I know I'm used to Thai spiciness anymore. What I recall my cousins doing when they introduced their children to spicy dishes was to get a lot of rice, a little of the spicy dish, and mix it well. The rice will tone down the heat. They also made sure there was a bit of something non spicy on the plate. Other than that I don't remember doing much. Thai kids are exposed to spicy dishes since they are young. We generally let them begin trying it when they wish to. They learn quickly whether or not they can handle a certain dish.

[Not sure if you know this if so ignore my mini lesson: Thai people usually serve 3-5 dishes at dinner consisting of a curry, a stirfry or two, a yum, some condiments, and veggies. Big serving bowls/plates are put in the middle of the table and we each have a plate of rice. We will take a bite sized portion of whatever we feel like from the bowls/plates in front of us via a serving spoon and put it on our rice. YOu eat you bite sized portion and then try something else. This way everyone gets something of everything and you get quite a broad spectrum of flavors. It's considered rude to put a non bite sized portion on your plate as you are seen as selfish and a glutton. I used to get scolded by my aunties because I had too much on my spoon and it was unladylike! I guess Thai ladies are only supposed to load up their spoons about halfway. Oh and Thai people eat with a fork in the left hand and a large spoon in their right. We used the fork as a pusher and eat with the spoon. ]

I think I know what Sanrensho is referring to Ptipois. Those pictures are prettied up with a swirl of coconut milk for presentation. You add it right before serving and swirl it in a little. That way the milk stays pretty white and you have a nice constrast for presentation.

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OK, but what pictures?

It's very obvious in the 2nd photo here. I also have a (Japanese) cookbook on Thai and Vietnamese street food, and it shows the same contrast of white coconut milk against red oil.

OnigiriFB's explanation makes the most sense to me. I just don't see how you could keep the coconut milk white without adding (some) right at the end. I wonder if there are flavour-related reasons for this, such as contrasting the flavour of the unsullied coconut milk against the stewed soup base? Either way, I'll try it next week.

OnigiriFB, thanks for the tips, the one about dousing the heat with a lot of rice is a good one. Also, I've always thought that the Thai way of using spoons and forks was very intuitive and efficient.


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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