This is arguably the best known Burmese dish, as it is generally considered the predecessor of the famous Northern Thai noodle dish, Khao Soi. Ohn-no Khao Swè literally means ‘coconut milk noodles’, but the protein used is generally chicken, hence my paraphrase of Coconut Chicken Noodles. This is a wonderfully subtle, lightly curried dish, a little like laksa but without whacking you in the face – the focus is on texture as much as flavour.
The Burmese way is to adjust seasoning to taste, by adding more fish sauce, squeezing over more lime juice or sprinkling on more chilli at the table.
About MiMi Aye
An obsession with food, especially Burmese cuisine, led to MiMi starting www.meemalee.com where she shares her culinary thoughts, recipes and reviews. Due to her eloquent and often wry turn of phrase, her blog is popular worldwide, although particularly in the Netherlands for reasons she has never been able to fathom.
Recommended by Lonely Planet and Time Out, MiMi has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Food Programme, in theGuardian, the Telegraph and Metro. Her recipes featured on Channel 4 Food to accompany the TV show Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escapes.
She lives in Kent with her husband, her daughter, and a collection of gashapon.
Coconut Chicken Noodles (Ohn-No Khao Swè) from MiMi Aye's "Noodle!: 100 Amazing Authentic Recipes"
Takes 20 minutes to make
40 minutes to cook
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 spring onions
- 2 tbsp gram flour (or chickpea flour, found at most South Asian stores)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ¼ tsp MSG or 1 low-salt vegetable stock cube or 1 tbsp Marigold bouillon powder
- 250g dried standard thick wheat noodles (lo mein)
- 2 eggs
- 2 banana shallots or 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, about 500g total weight, cut into small strips
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika
- 200ml coconut milk
To serve (see below)
- Crispy Rice Noodles (see below)
- Chilli Oil (see below)
- lime wedges
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, add the onions and cook gently for about 10 minutes until translucent. Take a tablespoonful of the cooked onions out of the pan and add to the ginger, garlic and spring onions, then grind the lot together in a blender or food processor to form a rough paste. Set to one side.
Whisk the gram flour with 100ml cold water, then add to the pan of cooked onions. Add the fish sauce and the bouillon. Bring to a simmer then top up with 500ml cold water. Bring the broth back to a simmer, then keep it simmering gently.
Meanwhile, cook the wheat noodles according to the packet instructions; drain. Soft-boil the eggs, then drain and cool in cold water. Once cool, peel and slice into wedges. Set aside with the noodles. Slice the shallots finely then soak in a bowl of cold water (see Cook’s Tips) until you are ready to serve, then drain.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan, add the ginger/garlic/spring onion paste and stir-fry over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken strips and 1 tablespoon of the paprika and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked and browned.
Stir the coconut milk and the remaining paprika into the pan of simmering broth. Tip in the stir-fried chicken mixture, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. At this stage the broth can be cooled and kept in the fridge for 48 hours or frozen, if you like (see below).
Divide the cooked wheat noodles among pasta bowls, then ladle the hot chicken broth over. Top with the sliced shallots, the egg wedges and the crispy rice noodles. Add another dash of fish sauce to each serving, and serve with chilli oil and fat wedges of lime for squeezing.
The shallots (or red onion) should be sliced as thinly as possible (so that each slice is translucent) and then immediately left to soak in cold water until you are ready to serve. The soaking removes the astringent ‘raw’ taste, but also keeps the slices crisp, which is important in this dish. When you are ready to garnish your noodles, quickly drain the shallot slices thoroughly and use immediately.
The chicken broth freezes well and can be kept for up to 1 month. Thaw, then reheat gently but thoroughly until piping hot.
A common table condiment, this is available in jars in most supermarkets, but don't confuse with Western-style chilli oil which is simply oil infused with chillies. You can make your own as follows. Or make your own. Put 50g of chilli flakes in a heatproof container with a lid. Heat 200ml groundnut oil in a wok or frying pan on a high heat. When you can feel waves of heat coming from the top with the palm of your hand, pour the oil very carefully on to the chilli flakes. They will immediately sizzle and fizz as they fry in the oil. Leave to cool, then cover with the lid. The chilli oil can be kept in a cool, dark place for up to a week.
Crispy rice noodles
You need a small handful of dried (and uncooked) flat or round rice noodles. Heat a 5cm depth of vegetable oil in a wok or small frying pan over a high heat until hot, then break the noodles straight into the hot oil. They will puff up immediately like prawn crackers. As soon as they do, use a slotted spoon to fish them out and tip on to some kitchen paper to drain. Use as a garnish, or simply eat as a snack.
Reprinted with permission from Noodle!: 100 Amazing Authentic Recipes by MiMi Aye, Copyright © 2014. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing.