Ohn-No-Kauk-Swe (Burmese Chicken Soup)

"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."
photo by SkipperSy photo by SkipperSy
photo by SkipperSy
photo by mersaydees photo by mersaydees
photo by mersaydees photo by mersaydees
photo by mersaydees photo by mersaydees
photo by Leggy Peggy photo by Leggy Peggy
Ready In:




  • 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.

Questions & Replies

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  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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!!!
  4. I did make it exactly as directed, since you said I must! EXCEPT (oops), I was making it for my DH to enjoy as lunch over the next day or two, so I didn't make the noodles or garnishes. I did tell him how to make himself enough noodles for a serving, as per your directions, and this he has done, very successfully, he's quite pleased with this 'new string' to his bow! And chilli flakes and coriander he sprinkles on! He is very much enjoying his soup, rich and creamy, and full of flavour. My other change (sorry), was that I used chicken drumsticks, at DHs request, so I fried the chicken for a little longer than suggested, and let the soup cook gently until I was sure that the chicken was cooked through. A great success, thank you to Peggy and Wah Htoo!
  5. I tried this dish at a friends house, it was green and gluggy and she wouldn't share the recipe. Never mind 'coz this was awesome! My boys aged 4 and 6 loved it and so did the hubby! I fried red chilli flakes in oil and mixed it in the serving bowls for my husband and I to make it spicier. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!


<p>Thanks so much for visiting my page.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I love to cook and travel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I'm originally from Nebraksa and now live in Australia. Have also been lucky enough to live in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Burma.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the beginning of 2009, hubby and I have visited all seven continents. We've cooked and travelled in Africa and Antarctica, from London across Asia to Sydney, around Australia, around South America, and across India, Europe, Canada and the USA. Most of our travels have been by road and we've covered more than 150,000 kilometres. It's been fun to learn about food and recipes from all over the globe, and most of the souvenirs I bring home are cookbooks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're interested in seeing some of our trip and menu highlights, please visit my travel blog at http://leggypeggy.com or my food blog at http://cookingonpage32.wordpress.com</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks also to everyone who has made, reviewed and/or photographed any of my recipes. Most appreciated.</p>
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