Chicken Khao Soi

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Cover Recipe: Bon Appetit, Chicken Khao Soi: May 2013

Year after year, I renew my subscription to Bon Appetit and I’m glad I do. I look forward to it coming in the mail each month. I feel like it’s just keeps getting better and better. Last year when I received the May 2013 issue, I was really drawn to the Chicken Khao Soup on the front cover. It’s very similar to my family’s favorite Thai chicken soup. This recipe comes from Northern Thailand. It’s not a dish I had ever heard of or tasted before, so I put it on my lengthy list of recipes to try.

Thai cuisine is one of my very favorites. I love the combination of flavors and the use of coconut milk. This recipe has coconut milk, but also uses a lot of coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger. There isn’t any lemongrass or some of the other flavors I think of when I think of Thai food.

The most intriguing part of the ingredient lists was the dried New Mexican chiles, which I use a lot in Mexican cooking. I was really interested to see how they translated to this Thai soup recipe. Read my notes below to see what I thought of the recipe.

chicken khao soi

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Chicken Khao Soi

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

"A simple curry paste gives this northern Thai-inspired soup surprising depth of flavor."

Ingredients:

Khao soi paste:
4 large dried New Mexico or guajillo chiles, stemmed, halved, seeded
2 medium shallots, halved
8 garlic cloves
1 2" piece ginger, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
Soup:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, halved lengthwise
1 pound Chinese egg noodles
3 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon (packed) palm sugar or light brown sugar
Kosher salt
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, and lime wedges (for serving)

Directions:

For khao soi paste:
Place chiles in a small heatproof bowl, add boiling water to cover, and let soak until softened, 25-30 minutes.
Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Purée chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons soaking liquid in a food processor, adding more soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls, if needed, until smooth.
For soup:
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add khao soi paste; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4-6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; shred meat.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
Add chicken, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, and sugar to soup. Season with salt or more fish sauce, if needed. Divide soup and noodles among bowls and serve with toppings.

Tips:

The chiles I used didn't end up being very spicy. The paste was good, but I wanted some spice! I added some red chile flakes. Next time I will just use the pods, seeds and all.
I used light coconut milk which still provided a lot of richness without it being to overpowering. The broth ended up being a little thinner than in the picture and I'm pretty sure that's why. Just an aesthetic thing.
I used gluten-free noodles instead of the Chinese egg noodles. I suspect any kind of noodle would be good here, but for the most authentic soup, use the Chinese noodles.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
8 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 700
Fat (g) 36
Saturated Fat (g)24
Cholesterol (mg) 150
Carbohydrates (g) 65
Dietary Fiber (g) 6
Total Sugars (g) 5
Protein (g) 35
Sodium (mg) 950

The results:

I wanted to love this soup so much, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that something was just…missing. The chiles I used weren’t spicy enough. I found I had to add red pepper flakes to amp it up, and even then I grabbed the sriracha from the fridge and gave it a good drizzle after my third bite. It’s not that it’s a bad recipe or a bad soup. It is actually very good, I just wanted it to wow me, and it didn’t do that. My husband and I had a lengthy conversation about what we could add to it to to suit our tastes – more sugar maybe? Definitely more spice. A squeeze of lime in each bowl is a must. It just needed something else, you know?

The paste itself is really easy to make. I could chalk up my disappointment to the chiles not being great quality, and maybe that’s just what it was. Or maybe I will try the guajillo chiles next time, which are spicier. I might also toast the chiles first like I do when I make mole or other Mexican recipes.

The recipe calls for a lot of garlic, but it wasn’t overpowering like I assumed it would be. I liked it. I did want there to be more “spice” in addition to heat. I love coriander and turmeric, but after the long simmer time, I couldn’t detect them as much as I would have liked in the finished soup.

That being said, it’s worth making again. I will just tweak it a bit…or a lot. Perhaps doubling up the spices and chile would do the trick.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Maybe, maybe not. There are other great recipes in that issue that might have been a better choice. BUT it did look really pretty in the bowls. :)

Lindsey Johnson writes the food blog, Cafe Johnsonia, and she works as a freelance recipe developer and photographer. She is the mother to three beautiful, fun children and resides in Utah. She became gluten-free in 2010 and has enjoyed the learning process that comes along with gluten-free baking and cooking. When she's not in the kitchen or behind the camera, she enjoys gardening, reading, being outside, and spending time with her husband and children.

12 Responses to “Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes”

  1. 1

    Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 2, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    I am a subscriber as well and when I saw those pancakes I was SO EXCITED to try them…til I read the recipe and b/c I don’t have to be GF, I took a pass b/c it seemed like a lot of trouble and possibly pan-stickage, as can happen with rice flours, etc. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. 2

    sara — May 2, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    These are really pretty, and glad to see your recommendation of how to make them less fragile! They look really yummy…I am also a huge buckwheat and cornmeal fan…they both make great pancakes and so cool to see them combined into one recipe!

  3. 3

    Lindsey Johnson // Cafe Johnsonia — May 2, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

    I made these again this morning for breakfast and tweaked them a bit more! I ended up using the following for the dry ingredients:

    3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
    2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
    1/3 cup brown rice flour
    1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. buckwheat flour
    1/4 cup tapioca starch
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

    They turned out even better than the other times. Hooray for multigrain pancakes! I’ve missed them. :)

  4. 4

    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — May 3, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    So glad you made these! I’ve been intrigued ever since I received that copy of BA. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to the trouble with the flours (since I’m not GF and don’t have brown rice flour on hand). BUT they sounded like they would taste great. Love your recommendations.

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Blackberry Farm, so it was neat seeing them highlighted on the cover.

  5. 5

    Haley Williams — May 3, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    Blackberry Farm also sells their gluten free pancake mix, so that might be an easier way to get the flours and mix of ingredients!

  6. 6

    Lori @ RecipeGirl — May 4, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    I’m actually excited about the variation that you posted in the comments! My mom is Gluten-Free, and I know she misses good pancakes. I’ll have to try your version for her!

  7. 7

    Joanne — May 9, 2013 @ 10:12 am

    It seems like Bon Appetit should hire you for gluten-free recipe testing! I can’t wait to try your take on them.

  8. 8

    Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons — May 19, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    Wow, you had such a beautiful photo for Cook The Cover! I also really loved the flavor of these pancakes. I didn’t have much trouble with them sticking to my nonstick griddle. However, I only had 3/4 of the gluten-free flours, and I don’t eat GF, so I substituted AP flour for the oat flour. Maybe that helped with the not sticking part?

    http://www.foxeslovelemons.com/2013/05/whole-grain-pancakes-with-pineapple.html

  9. 9

    marla — August 19, 2013 @ 5:45 am

    These look great to me …. even with a bit of stick!

  10. 10

    Susan Frost — August 19, 2013 @ 5:53 am

    I love these pancakes. I have made them twice now and have not had trouble with them sticking or crumbling at all. Not sure what the difference is but the as-is recipe worked great for me. They are awesome and in fact, I’ve just gotten a couple out of the freezer to heat for breakfast with some fresh blueberry sauce! Can’t wait!

  11. 11

    TJ — January 5, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

    The recipe converted pretty well to no-egg/no-dairy (I’m cooking for multiple allergies). I used soy milk + 2 T vinegar and chia seed egg, and added a teaspoon of psyllium instead of the xanthan gum.
    Gotta say–this is a pretty robust recipe to put up with all these modifications!

  12. 12

    TJ — January 5, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    Also, re: sticking: These seemed to need a bit cooler pan than wheat pancakes. My stuck badly at first but held together when I turned the heat lower.

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