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A Love Affair with Thai Cuisine : Khao Soi Gai Soup Recipe

Updated on May 14, 2011

Kao Soi : Delcious Noodle Curry Soup

Classic Northern Thai Curry
Classic Northern Thai Curry

The Secrets of Khao Soi Revealed

Near the famous Buddhist temple, Wat Jed Yod, in Chiang Mai, there is a quaint lunchtime restaurant that is always busy serving locals. The family run restaurant has become well known for one dish in particular – khao soi – an egg noodle curry dish that makes my mouth water just to think about it – even though I had one for lunch just today. Fortunately, the restaurant is within walking distance from my house and I make a point of treating myself to one of their kao soi dishes on a regular basis. It sets me back 25 baht, or just under a buck!

Despite its popularity here amongst locals and visitors from the West, khao soi is seldom found on the menus of Thai restaurants in the Occident. Kao soi is thought to have originated in Burma and became popular in Laos and then northern Thailand where a few varieties of the dish exist. The most popular form of the dish here is khao soi gai - a soup with a coconut-curry base, chicken and egg noodles, garnished with crispy noodles and coriander.

My local khao soi restaurant has been packing seats using this recipe for over 25 years and they were happy to reveal it to Hubpages readers providing that the recipe won’t be used to go into direct competition with them!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

30 mls/2 tbs oil

3 cloves of garlic crushed

3 shallots chopped

1 litre (4 cups/32 fl oz) coconut milk

100g (4 tbs ) red curry paste

4 large chicken legs or chicken pieces

45 mls (3 tbs) fish sauce, naam pla

60g (1/4 cup, 2 oz) palm sugar

15 mls (1 tbs) lime juice (discard seeds)

5g (1 tsp) turmeric

750 mls (3 cups/ 24 fl oz) water

185g (6 oz) fresh egg noodles

1 spring onion chopped

¼ cup chopped coriander


125 mls (1/2 cup) oil

60g egg noodles fried until crispy

½ lime

Pickled cabbage (optional)

Lime wedges


Fry the crushed garlic and shallots for 30 seconds in a wok with plenty of oil. Next, add the Thai red curry paste and fry for approximately 3 minutes. Now pour in the coconut milk and when it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken legs or pieces and leave on a real low simmers for 45 minutes or so until the chicken is so tender it’s nearly falling off the bone.

Next add the palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and turmeric - stir gently until mixed through and simmer for another 10 minutes.

To make the crispy egg noodle garnish, place oil in another wok or skillet and when hot, add the egg noodles and fry until crispy but don’t brown them. Remove from the wok and leave to cool on some paper towel.

Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan and cook the fresh egg noodles for strictly 1 minute only -drain the noodles and place in serving bowl. Pour the curry sauce and chicken over the noodles and garnish with crispy noodles, coriander and spring onions - serve right away.

Thais take their food pretty darn hot and eat this dish with plenty of dried chili, but I find the curry paste makes the dish spicy enough – up to your personal chili threshold. Westerners don’t normally enjoy the pickled cabbage with their khao soi but I’ve come to like it with limes as a condiment.

Be warned – this is an embarrassingly messy dish to attack, whether it be with chopsticks or fork and spoon and unless you have the grace of a snow leopard you will end up wearing some of the curry sauce so either bib up or wear an old t-shirt. I have a few white shirts that still bear the mark of an overly enthusiastically enjoyed khao soi. This dish also packs on the pound because of the coconut milk but if you ask me it’s an indulgence that is worth it from time to time.

I have served this classic dish to visiting friends from overseas many times and it is invariably received with lip smacking thanks and requests for the recipe which I am now happy to offer to Hubbers. Enjoy!


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