Coconut Milk Noodles
(Ohng No Khao Swe)
“Coconut milk noodles” – that is the direct translation from the Myanmar name for this dish. A lot of dishes here have simple and sometimes vague names—“Chinese Muslim fried rice”, “wide fried noodles”, “soaked, long and fried”—names which do not always explain the flavor, contents, or texture of the dish. I struggled to give this recipe a proper title in English, afraid that a direct translation of the name would leads you to believe that the noodles themselves are made from coconut milk (which does sound pretty great, actually).
After some thought, I am still not sure that there is a better name for this than coconut milk noodles. (Your suggestions are always welcome in the comments!) So instead, here is a description of the dish:
“A mild and thin coconut chicken curry, served over egg noodles, drizzled with lime juice, and crowned with cilantro, shallots, a boiled egg, and crisped noodles.”
Name aside, coconut milk noodles are a common breakfast and brunch dish here. Pleasant, bright-flavored, and not terribly spicy, which is how every day ought to start, don’t you think? If you make this dish, don’t skip the garnishes, especially not the lime! They add a lot of flavor and texture to the broth, and the egg especially is a great form of bonus protein. Here in Myanmar, meat portion sizes are usually quite small, and usually a boiled egg is added to dish a more cost effective way of giving the meal some protein.
300 grams wide egg noodles (if you prefer to be gluten free, that works too; try to use wide noodles in this dish, as it makes for a better texture)
12 oz chicken, chopped into small pieces
3 shallots, or 2 small-medium sized red onions, diced (set aside some of the chopped onion for a garnish, if desired)
3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
1 tablespoon of chili
½ tsp turmeric
vegetable oil, for frying and mixing
6 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup roasted chickpea flour
1 tablespoon sugar
6.5 oz can coconut milk
salt, to taste
Options for garnish:
Red onion, sliced thin
Fried onions or shallots
Crushed dried chilies
Hard boiled eggs, sliced thin or cut in half
Crisp fried noodles (chow mein noodles would work for this)
Start by cooking the egg noodles in boiling water until they are soft enough to eat. Remove the noodles from the pot and rinse with cool water until they are no longer hot. Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the noodles and mix well; this will prevent the noodles from sticking together when you serve them. Set aside. (Save the broth from cooking the noodles in case you wish to adjust the final flavor of the soup before serving.)
Fry the onions and garlic together until aromatic. Add the diced chicken, turmeric, and chili. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through.
In a large pot, heat the chicken broth. Once it is heated, remove about one cup of the broth, and add the chickpea flour to the removed broth, whisking well until there are no lumps. (If you don’t mix it really well, the soup will have a bunch of strange gelatinous lumps floating throughout.) Add the chickpea mixture and the cooked chicken mixture to the broth and continue heating. Finally, add the coconut milk and the sugar. Continue heating and stirring for about 2 minutes, until everything is well combined. Taste the broth—it should have a faint flavor of coconut, and the warm taste of chicken and chilies. Add more salt and chili, if desired. If the broth is too thick or spicy for your liking, you can thin it with the reserved water from cooking the egg noodles.
To serve, distribute noodles between bowls and then ladle the coconut chicken broth into each bowl and squeeze a lime wedge over each bowl. Garnish with boiled egg, cilantro, sliced onions, and some crushed chow mein noodles.
Serves 4 -6