Khao Soi Naam Naa from Austin Bush's "The Food of Northern Thailand"

 

Thai Lue-Style Rice Noodles in Pork Broth with a Savory Topping

serves 4 to 6

For the Topping

  • 30 large dried chilies (50 grams /1¾ ounces total)
  • 50 grams / 1¾ ounces Thai garlic (or 10 standard garlic cloves, peeled)
  • 120 grams / 4¼ ounces thua nao (fermented soybeans)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 500 grams / 18 ounces pork belly, minced finely

For the Broth

  • 1 kilogram / 2¼ pounds pork bones
  • 8 cilantro roots (30 grams / 1 ounce total)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon black soy sauce

For Serving

  • 300 grams flat / 10½ ounces wide dried rice noodles
  • 200 grams / 7 ounces long beans, 2-inch pieces (optional)
  • 200 grams / 7 ounces phak khanaeng (or Brussels sprouts), halved lengthwise (optional)
  • 150 grams / 5¼ ounces mung bean sprouts (optional)
  • 2 green onions (40 grams / 1½ ounces total), chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (20 grams / ⅔ ounce total), chopped
  • Crispy garlic and garlic oil
  • 160 grams / 5½ ounces deep-fried pork rinds
  • 4 to 6 rice cakes (the crisp, puffed kind; optional)
  • fish sauce
  • chili powder
  • sliced mild chilies in vinegar
  • sugar

THAI KITCHEN TOOLS

Advance prep: Make the topping at least 6 hours and up to 1 day before serving.

Prepare the topping: Bring the large chilies and enough water to cover by several inches to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer, cover with a lid, and simmer for 3 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the chilies covered.

While the chilies are simmering, pound and grind the garlic to a rough paste with a mortar and pestle. Remove and set aside. Pound and grind the fermented soybeans to a smooth paste; remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, strain the chilies, discarding the water, and add to the mortar. Pound and grind to a fine paste.

Heat the oil and garlic paste in a wok over medium-low heat. Simmer until the garlic is fragrant, golden, and crispy, about 20 minutes. Add the pounded fermented soybeans and chilies, and fry until brick red in color, about 20 minutes. At this point, remove about ¼ cup of the mixture and set it aside; this can serve as an optional condiment for the noodle dish. Add the minced pork belly, reduce the heat, and maintain at a very low simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is reduced, fragrant, and somewhat crumbly in texture; has a deep red color; and a layer of oil has emerged, about 1 more hour.

Prepare the broth: On the day of serving, bring the pork bones, cilantro roots, and 2½ quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Skim off any foam or debris and reduce the heat, simmering the broth until it’s reduced slightly and fragrant, 1½ to 2 hours. Add the salt and black soy sauce, and maintain at a low simmer.

Taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary; the broth should be slightly salty and aromatic from the pork bones and cilantro roots. Put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with room-temperature water. Soak for 10 minutes. Drain the noodles thoroughly, discarding the water.

Prepare the bowls: Bring at least 6 inches of water to a boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Place the long beans (if using) in a noodle basket and parboil until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and remove to a serving dish. Repeat with the phak khanaeng (if using). Place 100 grams / 3½ ounces of the soaked noodles and a small handful of mung bean sprouts (if using) in the noodle basket, and boil, agitating the basket until the noodles are just cooked and the mung beans sprouts just tender, about 20 seconds. Drain thoroughly and place in a serving bowl. Cover the noodles with 1 to 1½ cups of the broth, top this with a heaping ¼ cup of the chili and pork topping, and garnish with green onion, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon or so of crispy garlic and garlic oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for each serving. Serve the noodles hot with optional sides of the parboiled long beans, phak khanaeng, the remaining mung bean sprouts, deep-fried pork rinds, and/or rice cakes, and season with the reserved chili paste, fish sauce, chili powder, sliced chilies in vinegar, and sugar.

Reprinted from The Food of Northern Thailand. Copyright © 2018 by Austin Bush. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Austin Bush. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.