Khao Soi Recipe

It’s hard to compete with the flavours of Malaysia, arguably the best in southeast asia. But after trying North Thailand’s Khao Soi I could be swayed. The rich curry and coconut base mixed with the perfect combination of crunchy noodles and soft chicken made this my favourite dish in Thailand. Thanks to Vannee and Mr. Meo I learned how to make it myself and want to share it with you.

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Khao Soi (also known as Chiang Mai Noodle Soup)

Ingredients  (this only serves one, so edit recipe accordingly)

4 tbsp cooking oil
100g chopped chicken
3 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp indian curry powder (garam massala)
1/4 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp fish sauce
100g fresh or regular egg noodles
1 tsp chilli powder

Garnish

2 tbsp spring onion, chopped
1 slice of lime
1 tbsp pickled cabbage (could substitute fresh cilantro)

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Some of the raw ingredients. Missing from this photo is the chicken, coconut cream/milk and the sauces.

1. Put about 1 tbsp of oil into wok and heat.

2. Mix red curry paste with Indian curry powder.

3. Add curry paste into wok and stir until a strong curry smell is released. (Less than a minute). Add chicken. Once cooked, add coconut miilk, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off.

4. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 1 minute. Drain well and leave to cool.

5. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil until it’s very hot and fry 1/4 of the egg noodles until crispy. (Stir constantly as they can burn easily.)  Take them out of oil and pat dry with paper towel.

6. Pour the curry over the boiled egg noodles in a serving bowl.

7. Garnish with spring onions, pickled Chinese cabbage, crispy noodles and lime.

Bon Appetite!

Cooking with Vannee & Meo, Thailand

Vannee is like a Thai version of your grandmother, with a thick coat of lipstick and a warmth about her reserved for grandmas alone. Her husband, Mr. Meo (pronounced meow like a cat) is a retired chef and was to act as her assistant in the daunting task of teaching westerners how to grind a good curry paste and assemble a proper spring roll.

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Vannee!

In the early morning they welcomed us into their air-conditioned minivan with the playboy license plate adorning the front. Already we knew this was going to be a fun day! We picked 6 dishes each from a menu she had brought along and headed to the local market to get some fresh ingredients. This is some of what we saw:

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All the essentials. You can’t make thai food without fish sauce, soy sauce, mushroom sauce and something spicy!
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5 bhat = $0.17 US
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10 baht = $0.33 US
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Purchasing some vegetables at the market.
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The colour of the peppers makes no difference to their spiciness, it’s the size that matters.
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Pink eggs! These are cured eggs and are black inside … not the most appetizing to look at once cracked.

When we reached the Meo residence, we saw the cooking facilities were all outside. We started by each making our appropriate curry paste from scratch. Mine was a masaman curry and Jesse made a spicy red curry. Throughout the day we would continuously cook and taste-test eachothers dishes. Here are some of the dishes we made, from raw ingredients to finished product.

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From a red curry paste…
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…to Jesse’s Panaeng curry with chicken.
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From raw ingredients (chicken omitted)…
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…to cashew nut chicken.
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Mr. Meo helping Jesse in the outdoor kitchen.
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Waiting for my noodles to cook.
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Raw ingredients (chicken omitted)…
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…to my favourite dish, Khao Soi.
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Raw ingredients (minus soup stock)…
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…to hot and sour soup with prawn.
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Jesse’s spring rolls ready to be fried…
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…and the finished product. Best spring rolls I’ve ever tasted!

Every one of these dishes was soooo tasty and we can’t wait to practice our newfound skills on some friends and family!

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Thank you to Vannee and Mr. Meo for teaching us so much about thai cuisine! Check out ‘Classic Home Cooking – Chiang Mai’ if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We made our way back to where it all began – Thailand. This time we stayed in the more chilled out northern city of Chiang Mai. We arrived on a Sunday which meant we were treated to the lively weekly market. We met Adam on the bus to Chiang Mai and he acted as our tour guide as we checked out the usual and unusual market fare. And, of course, taste-tested the local specialties!

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Colourful lanterns.
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Khao Soi – my favourite local dish.
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Fresh juices in bamboo glasses.

Chiang Mai has a pretty booming tourist industry which meant lots of opportunities to take a cooking class. We chose one that was outside of town, run by a retired husband and wife. Check out our creations in the next post!

Rather then cram in a bunch of attractions we spent most of our days reading books in the shaded garden area of our guesthouse. Sometimes you just need a vacation from your vacation!! Other days we rented bikes and just drifted around Chiang Mai’s many small charming backstreets.

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Two boys wearing typical school uniforms.
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A monk blessing an amulet for a girl.
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Small offerings are left at the foot of an elephant statue in the temple.
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A pretty detail from the temple.

Alas, it was time to head back to bustling Bangkok and get our visas ready for Myanmar. It’s fun to make transportation part of the adventure rather then just a means of getting from point A to point B. Hence, we made the journey via the overnight sleeper train and had dinner on the dining car and met some interesting characters.

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In a taxi, on our way to the train station. Goodbye Chiang Mai!
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Grabbing some food and drinks on the dining car.
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Cheers!

Krabi Town & Railay Beach

Krabi town is pretty much a hub of guesthouses and travel agencies that act as the launching point to several small islands and beaches. We stayed in a guesthouse near the water and enjoyed dinner at the night market.

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Lots of motorbikes with side cars feature hammocks.

We decided to go to Railay beach and spend a few days. It is on the mainland but is only accessible by boat since it is surrounded by cliffs. We took a longboat for about 45 minutes to get there.

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Jesse on the longboat to Railay.
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You can see why this area is really popular with rock climbers. The heat is unbearable though – I don’t know how they do it!
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Our home away from home – no complaints here!
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The morning wake up call. These poor guys don’t know what’s in their near future – cock fighting!
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On our search for a more private beach we saw leaves bigger than our heads …
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… and spiders as big as my hand!
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There were also tonnes of monkeys!! They seem cute but when a gang of monkeys (and I’m talking like 25) is blocking the path to your house they’re actually quite menacing!
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Pretty much how we spent the next two days. The water here was a bright aqua colour – so beautiful!

 

Scuba Diving in Koh Tao

One of the main reasons we chose Koh Tao from the many islands around there was because it’s one of the cheapest places to get your scuba diving certification and has some beautiful dive sights. For the next four days we split up our time between class work and swimming up to 18 metres below surface. It was a really neat experience to see the bottom of the ocean which is like a whole other world.

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On the boat to Koh Tao. Another classy photo of Jesse!
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Back on the boat after my first dive.
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Scuba school isn’t all fun and games! We never thought we’d be reading textbooks and writing exams on vacation.

We also went to a muay thai boxing match on the island. I was a little hesitant to watch this since I generally don’t like watching people beat the crap out of eachother, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. We made a small bet with each other on each fight which started with kids around the age of 10 (it was a little weird cheering on kids to fight but nobody got hurt in this match). The fights progressed from lightweights to the heavyweights. The stadium is outside and the buzz and excitement of the crowd is contagious.

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The Muay Thai stadium.
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Sunset view.

One of the best parts of being near the water is the fresh seafood that is brought in daily. We had plenty of meals watching the sun go down. After five days here we HAD to leave (these islands are tourist traps and the prices are inflated). The next morning we caught a ferry and a bus further south to Krabi town.

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

After leaving the bustle of Bangkok we were ready for something a little quieter so we caught the train to the smaller town of Kanchanaburi. Travelling by train is my new favourite way to get around. We saw some amazing views and landscapes that would be impossible to see by other means of transportation.

We rented a guesthouse right on the river which was so quiet and peaceful … until the karaoke barges started passing by and the motorcycle convention came to town. The latter actually turned out to be pretty fun when we got to know them later at one of the local bars.

The main attraction in Kanchanaburi is the Bridge over the River Kwai, which is part of the Death Railway. The railway was built by POW under the Japanese and nearly 38 prisoners died for every km of the railway (over 16000 deaths in total). Nearby is the JEATH museum (an acronym for the countries who helped build the railway – Japan, England, Australia and Holland).

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On our way to Kanchanaburi by train.

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Bridge over the River Kwai.
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A depiction of the building of the railway using prisoners of war for labour.
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This didn’t seem related to the theme of the museum but was fun to look at regardless. We were outnumbered by live animals too, like stray dogs and lizards lounging in the sun.
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The view from our guesthouse on the river. Our contrast of our neighbours motorcycles next to our rented scooter was pretty funny.
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We drove up the mountain in search of waterfalls, caves and natural springs.
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On our way to the waterfalls we came across these caves. There was barely room for one body and it was pitch black after only a few steps inside.
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Jesse put on a brave face (NOT!) and entered the cave with his lighter as his only source of light.

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We finally found the waterfalls (there were 7 of them!) and spent the afternoon playing around and cooling off in them before heading home.
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After a few days in Kanchanaburi we decided it was time to move on. The next morning we started the 2 day journey to Koh Tao via public bus (pictured), train, motorbike taxi, another bus and a boat!