Burma (also known as Myanmar) is a fascinating country, which is often referred to as land of 10,000 temples. I visited in December 2015 and was lucky to have some recommendations from my friend Thet Su, who comes from Burma. Recently, she sent me this recipe to make her favourite dish! This recipe for Burmese Coconut Chicken Noodles (Ohn no Khauk Swe) is featured on the website The Happy Foodie and it is originally from The Rangoon Sisters Cookbook.
After reading through the recipe, you may notice that there is a long list of ingredients and instructions. However, the ingredients are all relatively easy to find in London (and I would imagine most large cities). And the instructions are not difficult, but there are a lot of preparation steps. I recommend to give it a try, and use fresh ingredients because the flavour combination is amazing at the end! In particular, the toppings add great textures and extra flavour.
5 Tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower or peanut), plus extra 2 Tbsp for browning the chicken
5 medium onions, chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2-3 cm pieces
2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp chilli powder
100g creamed coconut (solid block), or 200ml coconut milk
2 Tbsp gram flour, toasted in a frying pan
600 ml chicken stock
2–3 tbsp fish sauce
up to 400 ml cold water
6 nests (450–500g) dried chow mein or egg noodles, cooked
3 limes, cut into wedges
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 batch of crispy fried rice noodles (see below)
chili flakes or chili oil
Frying the rice noodles
Pour vegetable oil into deep saucepan to a depth of 3-5 cm and heat to medium-high temperature. Line a large bowl with kitchen paper and have a heatproof strainer or sieve ready for scooping out the noodles.
Test the readiness of the oil by dropping a piece of noodle into it – it should instantly sizzle (noodles will curl up and turn opaque and bubbly). Separate the nest of noodles and add a handful to the oil, frying for a minute, then scoop up with your slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen paper. Continue to fry the remaining noodles in batches as above.
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish set over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook slowly, turning down the heat to low-medium and stirring every few minutes until softened and starting to lightly brown and turn opaque– this should take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves and ginger to a paste in a small food processor.
Once the onions are ready, add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add a splash more oil, then brown the chicken pieces with the onion mixture. Add the spices and creamed coconut, breaking it up into smaller pieces as you stir – it should melt. Stir in the toasted gram flour, followed by the chicken stock, fish sauce and the cold water. Add as much cold water as needed to make the curry into a sauce. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer, uncovered, over low heat for about 30 minutes. If the broth is too thick, add some more water.
Serve hot on a bed of cooked egg noodles. Add a squeeze of lime juice and top with boiled eggs. Present the remaining garnishes in little bowls for everyone to help themselves according to their tastes.
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