Creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy…those are only a fraction of the descriptors you can use when describing a dish that can only be found in the northern mountains of Thailand. Reminiscent of a yellow curry, this “soup” is creamier and sweeter than any curry I have ever eaten.
I generally dislike most curry, and until I spent a whooping $1.50 at a Chaing Mai hole-in-the-wall to try this popular dish, my recent fondness of curry had not spurred.
Since returning home to my normal 9-5, I have genuinely missed the kind people of Thailand and its beautiful cities. If you know me personally, you know it is a trip I just can’t stop talking about. (Sorry, friends.) My husband thinks I am crazy because I have craved Pad Thai at least once a week since returning Stateside.
What better way to pay homage to such a wonderful vacation than to try and recreate one of best dishes we tried. Though, my husband really liked the scorpion he ate at the night market, and that probably takes the cake for the most adventurous thing eaten on our trip.
Beware, this recipe has a ton of ingredients. The good news is most of the weird ones can be found at any local Asian market. I would not recommend trying to make this dish if you are a new cook.
Unlike many recipes you will find online for this dish, this one requires you to make your own curry paste — a rewarding but exhausting venture. Also, be sure to get fresh noodles, as the dried ones do not fry well.
You will notice in my pictures that my noodles are thin, do not make that mistake either.Thicker is better!
• Mortar and Pestle
Ingredients for the curry paste:
• 1 whole dried Thai Chili
• 2 shallots, diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, diced
• 2 inches from the bottom of a stalk of fresh lemongrass
• 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
• 2 inch knob of fresh turmeric, peeled and diced
• 1 small bunch of cilantro stalks
• 1 teaspoon of whole coriander
• 6 pods of Thai black cardamom
• 1 tablespoon of Thai shrimp paste
Ingredients for the “Soup”:
• 1 pound of fresh Chinese egg noodles
• 2 (15 oz) cans of coconut milk
• 1 cup of chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons of palm sugar, brown sugar will work as a substitute
• 4 chicken legs, split
• Fish sauce
• Lime wedges and sliced shallots for topping
1. In a large piece of aluminum foil, combine all the ingredients for the curry but for the salt. Seal foil well into a pouch, making sure all the edges are sealed. You can cook the packet one of two ways, over burner flame or by placing in a cast iron skillet (it will damage any other kind of skillet) over high heat. Cook the pouch, occasionally turning, until it begins to smoke. This takes about 10 minutes total.
2. Once the packet is cooled, transfer the contents to your mortar and pestle. Work to the ingredients until a paste is formed. Approximately 10 minutes.
3. Add in the shrimp paste and salt, working until fully combined. Set aside. (Note: The shrimp paste smells extremely strong — and it is! But follow the amount in the recipe and it won’t overpower the dish.)
4. Heat wok with enough canola or vegetable oil for frying. Once at shimmering at high heat, fry 1/4 of the egg noodles until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels season with salt, and set aside.
5. Discard the oil from your wok, then add in 1 tablespoon of oil. Skim 2 tablespoons of fat from the top of your coconut milk and add to wok. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it appears as though the mixture has broken. About 2-3 minutes.
6. Add curry paste to oil and cook, stirring, for about 45 seconds.
7. Stir in your coconut milk, then the chicken stock, and finish with your sugar.
8. Add in your chicken legs, and bring soup to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, being sure to occasionally turn the chicken.
9. While the soup is cooking, bring a sauce pan full of salted water to a boil. Cook your the remaining rice noodles until al denti.
10. Drain the noodles, and divide between four bowls. Top the noodles with your soup, and finish with your fried noodles. Serve immediately, and allow your guest to top their soup with the desired toppings.