Beef Khao Soi (soy) also known as Chiang Mai Curry Noodles is one of my favorite dishes. Order this when you see it because it's not as common on American Thai restaurant menus. This recipe is easy to make, rich and flavorful and only uses one or two pans.
How do you pronounce Khao Soi?
In my limited language abilities my pronunciation is cow soy like cow the bovine animal and soy as in soy sauce.
Where did Khao Soi Originate?
It's often debated where Khao Soi comes from. The prevailing opinions are that it's either from the Shan State of Burma (Myanmar) or it came from Muslim traders in Yunnan , China's southwestern-most province. The merchants from Yunnan migrated to their neighboring countries Laos, Burma, and Thailand.
Regardless of the history Khao Soi curry noodles are synonymous with Chiang Mai.
Khao Soi Ingredients
You can get all of the beef Khao Soi ingredients from your local Asian market. It uses a few staple items from the Thai pantry.
- Fresh Turmeric
- Red Curry Paste (Maesri brand)
- Coconut Milk
- Fish Sauce
- Lime Juice
- Kaffir Lime Leaf
- Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)
- Chinese egg noodles (similar width to linguini) or gluten free egg noodles
- Beef or chicken
- chicken stock or water (for thinning the broth)
Traditionally it's served with pickled cabbage, a condiment you can buy and sometimes shallots but they're not necessary.
You might be able to get everything at Whole Foods, except for kaffir lime leaf. They have a version in a jar but it's not as good as getting the fresh leaves you find in the frozen section of an Asian grocery.
The specialty ingredients you'll need are fresh turmeric, Thai red curry paste, and lemongrass. Fresh turmeric if you're not familiar is a bright orange rhizome that will stain everything you own. It looks similar to ginger but smaller, knobby and bright orange.
For the Thai red curry paste I use the Maesri brand which you can find in the Asian market readily. It comes in a small 7oz can or a large pint sized tub. It is basically a paste of several spices, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass and lime leaf. It's a great high quality product that I keep in my pantry.
The noodles to use for Khao Soi are Chinese egg noodles. The come in a 1lb package and they are similar in size to linguini. They come dried. For this recipe I'm using gluten free noodles because my girlfriend has celiacs, an allergy to gluten.
How to make Khao Soi
Beef Khao Soi starts with a paste sautéed until fragrant. Then meat is stewed with coconut milk and cooked noodles are added. The dish in finished with crispy fried noodles as a garnish.
Making the paste
For the Khao Soi paste prepare your ingredients. Peel ginger, and turmeric. The easiest way for both is by using a spoon to scrape the skin off. For the lemongrass cut off the tops and bottom and remove the tough outer layer. We're going to use the bottom 4"
Peel your garlic. Chop the garlic, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass. Get it into as fine pieces you can. The next step is to combine it all with a mortar and pestal or in a food processor.
Pound everything in the mortar and pestal or combine in food processor until you have a paste. Make sure you really break down the lemongrass or you will taste fibers in the finished dish.
Making the curry
Next heat a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the Khao Soi paste and the red thai curry paste until it smells fragrant.
Next season the beef lightly with salt. Don't add a lot because the curry will be seasoned as well. We just want to make sure there is seasoning on both the broth and the meat.
Next add the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime leaf, and half the chicken stock. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Reserve half of the solid fat (coconut cream) from one of the cans.
If you're using thinly sliced beef simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. If it is cubed chunks of beef this may take up to an hour and a half. For bone in chicken simmer for 45 minutes or for thinly sliced chicken breast simmer for 10 minutes.
Depending on how long you have to simmer your meat you may need to add more liquid to keep a nice thin consistency.
Making the Noodles
While this is cooking make your fried noodles. Using a pot of oil on the stove preheat to 350 degrees. Cook the dried noodles until crispy and golden. Stir them while cooking to make sure they don't get stuck to the bottom or burn.
If using an air fryer just coat the noodles lightly with a tsp of oil and airfare on 350 until golden and crunchy about 10 minutes. If they're getting too dark before they're crunchy turn it down to 325.
Set aside for the finished dish.
When the meat is tender proceed to the next step.
Next boil your noodles. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add your noodles. Defer to the directions on the package. Most Chinese egg noodles will take 3-5 minutes but some may take less. I'm using gluten free noodles that cook very quickly in 2-3 minutes.
Remove them from the heat and strain them before you think they're ready while they still have a pretty strong bite to them. This is even before they are al dente. The noodles will continue to heat and cook after you've strained them and they will cook even more when you add them to the broth.
Drain the noodles in the sink using a strainer/colander.
Finally add your noodles to the broth.
It will taste amazing. At this point taste and adjust your seasonings, if the broth is too thick add a little chicken stock or water. If it's too thick add a little of the coconut cream. If it's "flat" it needs a splash more fish sauce or salt.
Plate and enjoy the BEST Beef Khao Soi. Serve this with other Thai inspired dishes like, Easy Thai Lettuce Wraps, Som Tum Thai Salad, or Easy Green Thai Curry.
Beef Khao Soi Chiang Mai Curry
- Large sautee pan or pot
- Small pot to boil noodles
- Air fryer or small pot for frying
Khao Soi Paste
- 4 ea garlic clove peeled and chopped
- 2 ea turmeric pieces around 1" peeled and chopped
- 1 ea piece of ginger around 1" slice peeled and chopped
- 1 ea lemongrass stalk top and bottom cut off and chopped
- 1 tbsp Red thai curry paste (maesri brand) If you like spicy double this
- 2 cans coconut milk one can reserve half of the coconut cream
- 1 cup chicken stock or water half reserved
- 8 ea lime leaf
- 1 Tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp lime Juice fresh squeezed
- 1 lb chinese egg noodles or gluten free linguini
- 1 lb beef, flank thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp oil plus more for crispy noodles
Khao Soi Paste
- Mix all of the ingredients for Khao Soi paste and smash in a mortar and pestal. Alternately combine all in a food processor until combined. If you don't have any equipment chop everything together finely until a paste forms.
- Preheat a pan to medium high heat. Sautee the khao soi paste and red thai curry paste until fragrant. About 30 seconds to 1 minutes.
- Add the beef and sear.
- Next add the coconut milk. Use one whole can and one can minus the solid coconut cream, set that aside to adjust consistency later. Add half the chicken stock or water, sugar, lime leaf, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the beef is tender.
- For the crispy noodles, preheat a pot of oil to 350 or an airfryer to 350. Cook dried noodles until golden brown. If using an airfryer just lightly coat the noodles in oil.
- Wait to cook the regular noodles until the protien is tender. For the regular noodles bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or according to the directions of the package. You want to undercook them slightly so they still have a chew. The noodles will continue cooking after you strain them. Strain the noodles.
- After 30 minutes or when the beef is tender add the cooked boiled noodles to the curry.
- Squeeze one lime into the dish and taste and adjust seasoning. If the dish is too thick add a little chicken stock. If it's too thin add the reserved coconut cream.
- Enjoy! Serve with limes and top with crispy noodles. Optional garnishes can be shallots or cilantro.
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