Khao Soi

I really, really love Thai food. If I absolutely had to pick a single favorite dish, this might be it. It’s kind of hard to find outside Northern Thailand (except I’ve heard there’s a place in Oakland that has it – I MUST investigate!)

I wrote about it when we were in Chiang Mai two years ago, but I’ve only made it myself once. That time, it wasn’t awesome. This time I actually made it twice, at the same time: one pot with chicken for Mike and one pot with tofu for me.

It almost didn’t happen though. Our closest Asian grocery store (which is actually our closest grocery store, period) was OUT OF RED CURRY PASTE. So, being the ridiculous housewife that I am for the next couple months, I decided to make my own. It’s kind of a pain, because it means pounding stuff together in a giant mortar and pestle for what feels like an eternity, but it’s good because you can control exactly what goes into it and make sure there’s no shrimp paste (that stuff is NASTY). I used this Epicurious recipe.

The garnishes are absolutely essential for this. Without a squeeze of lime, thinly sliced shallots, and pickled mustard greens (any Asian grocery store should have these in a little vacuum-sealed pack or jar), this soup is just not the same. It really needs fried noodles, too, but after making my kitchen a disaster while I was making that curry paste, frying noodles just wasn’t going to happen.

If you’re going to make this vegetarian, drain, press, and fry your tofu beforehand. It will come together pretty quickly after that, so get everything ready to go. If you’re making it with chicken, I think it’s easiest to use drumsticks, but you can use whatever you want. It will take a little longer than the tofu version because the legs have to cook through.

Recipe:
(adapted from Chez Pim)

soup
6 chicken legs OR 1 lb tofu, drained, press, and stir-fried until golden
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp red curry Paste
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. turmeric
3 cups full-fat coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
a pinch of sugar
fish sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce) to taste
8 ounces dried egg noodles

garnishes
about 1/4 cup thinly sliced pickled mustard greens
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into thin slices
fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat, then add the curry paste and fry until very fragrant, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add the turmeric and curry powder.

Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add sugar and fish sauce to taste Add the chicken or tofu and broth, turn heat down to a simmer, and cook, covered, until chicken is done (or for a few minutes if using tofu). Taste and adjust seasonings.

While the soup is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions.

Drain the noodles and put some in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle soup over the noodles, then serve along with the garnishes

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11 Responses to “Khao Soi”


  1. 1 Kate July 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

    How can anyone be out of red curry paste and call themselves a store?

  2. 2 Maria July 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I love Thai food but haven’t had it in a awhile. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. 3 Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles July 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I love Thai food also! In fact, I had it for lunch on Tuesday and for dinner last night. 🙂

  4. 4 Nicole, RD July 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I just got back from Thailand, and now I must make this! I thought I might burn out on Thai, but nope…now I just think it trumps Mexican!

  5. 5 KarmaCucina July 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    This looks insanely delicious! I’m with Nicole that Thai trumps Mexican any day of the week… can’t wait to try!

  6. 6 Kira July 15, 2011 at 6:12 am

    You know my feelings about Thai food. One of our very close places has Khao Soi, and Joe gets it almost every time we order from there. I’ll have to surprise him some day by making it at home!

  7. 7 Angela July 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Cate – I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now and every time I come to it I end up drooling over whatever you’re making. I’m a huge fan of Thai food but haven’t ever been ambitious enough to try making anything besides pad thai, but this looks like something maybe I can handle. Kind of want to go make it right now….

  8. 8 Dave October 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Sorry, Cate….but this recipie doesn’t do this amazing dish any justice. It’s the treatment of the noodles where this goes wrong. Must have fried and boiled noodles to be simply amazing. But your try and passion are to be commended.

  9. 10 Sasha June 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    We were in Chiang Mai just over a year ago and totally fell in love with khao soi! Since being back in the uk we have used this recipe four times, and it is spot on! When craving Thai food this is the recipe that I head to on my favourites bar! I do however use chicken breasts, but only because I’m not a fan of drumsticks! Well done Cate! 😉


  1. 1 the saturday soup – some love for me and you Running With Tweezers Trackback on July 23, 2011 at 6:27 am

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