Prep 20 mins
Cook 35 mins
I was lucky to live in Burma for several years in the 1980s. I was even luckier to have Wah Htoo working in my home. She is the best cook of Burmese food I've ever met. Her version of this soup is famous in Rangoon. Once a Burmese guest at our table called Wah Htoo out of the kitchen to tip her -- the only way he knew to convey how impressed he was with her cooking. Of course, I never got that recipe from Wah Htoo. But after many attempts, I think even Wah Htoo would be proud of this effort. This is a mellow, rather than a spicy, recipe. Add plenty of the crushed dried chilies for heat. Note: Burmese chickens get a lot of exercise -- they are tough, but full of flavour. Please use free range, organic chicken thighs if you can get them (a small whole, free-range chicken also works -- cut into 10-12 pieces and with or without skin). Also resist the temptation to play around with this. Trust me, I've played around with it for ages -- trying to get it just right. Finally -- don't let the number of ingredients or steps deter you. This really is easy to make.
- 125 g vermicelli (4 oz)
- 440 g thin egg noodles (14 oz)
- 2 liters boiling water
- 600 g chicken thighs, cut in bite-size pieces (21 oz)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1⁄4 cup chickpea flour
- 1⁄2 cup cold water
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons fresh turmeric, chopped (or 3/4 teaspoon ground)
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 medium cayenne chilies, deveined, deseeded and chopped (I retain 10-15 seeds)
- 330 ml coconut cream (11 oz)
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 chicken stock cubes (optional ( for a stronger stock)
- 2 liters boiling water, to reheat noodles
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2-1 cup deep fried onions (or shallots)
- 1 lime, cut in wedges
- 1⁄2-1 cup coriander leaves, chopped (cilantro)
- 2 -3 tablespoons crushed dried chilies
- 2 -3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (or cut in wedges)
- extra fish sauce
- Put the vermicelli and noodles in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. As they soften, use two forks to separate the strands. When fully softened, drain them in a colander, and set aside.
- Rub the chicken with the fish sauce, and set aside.
- Dissolve the chickpea flour in the water, and set aside.
- In a food processor, blend together the onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger and chillies. When well-blended, add 1/4 cup of the coconut cream, and process to a smooth paste.
- Heat the peanut oil in a pan large enough to hold all the soup ingredients. Add the paste and fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken and continue frying for another 3 minutes, still stirring. Add half the stock (2 1/2 cups) and one stock cube, if used, and bring to a boil. Continue cooking another 15-20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. You want the sauce to start thickening.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare the garnishes, and set aside.
- While the soup is cooking, also heat the other half of the stock (and a second stock cube, if used) in another pan until it starts to boil. Add the dissolved (and stirred again) chickpea flour/water mixture, still stirring well to minimise lumps. When this thickens some (about 5 minutes) pour this mixture through a sieve into the pan containing the chicken mixture. Stir well. (The sieve is important -- no matter how much you stir, there are still a few lumps.).
- When the soup just starts to boil, add the remaining coconut cream. Then bring soup back to a rolling boil.
- While the soup is returning to a rolling boil, bring a full 2-liter kettle of water to the boil, then pour the hot water over the vermicelli and egg noodles you softened earlier. Get the garnishes ready to serve.
- Let diners serve themselves. Have each person put some noodles in their soup bowl, then ladle over the soup/chicken mixture and top with the garnishes they like. Those who like salty should add a few shots of extra fish sauce.
- Attack with a spoon and fork while the soup is hot.
- Note: We use all the garnishes -- liberally.
I thought this was fairly bland, I expected something spicier, but my husband loved it! I put the noodles in with the soup and fridged it. Tonite I reheated in the microwave, and served it again. It was thicker and a little gluggy, but Ray thought it was wonderful again :) I added home made chilli sauce and a little sour cream, and then proceeded to have 2 bowls:) I have never had Burmese food, so I didnt know what to expect, but I will definately make this again! thanks Peggy
This recipe is wonderful! Congratulations, Leggy Peggy. I have enjoyed this dish at a couple of Burmese restaurants, and this recipe comes closest to the silky, comfort-food offered by these hole-in-the-wall favorites. This recipe's foundation - the paste and the balance of the seasonings - are spot-on. As with so many soups from this part of the world, what makes the dish are the to-your-taste add-ons - the chopped onion/shallot, chopped hard-boiled egg, cilantro, lime/lemon wedges, and roasted crushed red pepper. <br/><br/>A couple of modifications: I add an extra 1/2 tsp of turmeric to the fish sauce for the chopped chicken; let this sit for a good 20 minutes to marinate and season the chicken. Simmer the paste for about 10 minutes longer than this recipe calls for, then add the chicken - this allows the extra water from the onion to cook off, and lets the paste begin to caramelize. This deepens the flavor. As for the noodles, I like to use fresh Korean udon noodles, or Vietnamese egg noodles. These both have a lot of body, and create a nice 'presence' in the creamy broth.
This recipe was included in Book#228608. March 13, 2008 -- I really wanted to try this recipe because it had so many different and unusual combinations of flavors. It didn't disappoint -- this soup/stew is phenomenal. It took me quite a bit more prep time than stated, but it was worth it. (Next time, I'll prep as much as I can ahead of time, so I can get it on the table more quickly.) It was better than anything I've had in restaurants, and I took Leggy Peggy's advice and didn't change ingredients or proportions. The garnishes, and we did use all of them in each bowl, were awesome. Can you tell we loved it? We did!!!