Coconut Chicken Noodles: Ohn no Khauk Swe

Rich, intense and soothing, this Burmese coconut chicken noodle dish is perfect for feeding a crowd.

The Rangoon Sisters: Recipes from our Burmese family kitchen
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Introduction

This is one of our favourite dishes; it is lightly spiced, comforting, rich with coconut and it certainly leaves an impression. We often make a big batch of this for parties, specifically birthdays – Dad was a firm believer in the Chinese tradition of having noodles for good luck on your birthday! Guests can adjust their bowls to their own tastes by adding various multi-textured garnishes and condiments from a selection on the table.

Serves 6

Ingredients

5 tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower or peanut), plus extra 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 3cm pieces
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp chilli powder
100g creamed coconut (the solid block type), or 200ml coconut milk would work
2 tbsp gram flour, toasted (see page 203)
600ml chicken stock
2–3 tbsp fish sauce
400ml cold water
To serve:
6 nests (450–500g) dried chow mein or egg noodles, cooked
3 limes, cut into wedges
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
coriander leaves
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 batch of crispy fried rice noodles (see below)
chilli flakes or chilli oil
fish sauce

Instructions

For the crispy fried noodles (serves 6):

You will need oil (vegetable, sunflower or peanut), for deep-frying and 200g dried rice or egg noodles.

Pour the oil into a wok or deep saucepan to a depth of 5cm and set over a medium-high heat. Line a large bowl with kitchen paper and have a heatproof strainer or sieve ready for fishing out the noodles.

Test the readiness of the oil by popping a piece of noodle into it - it should instantly sizzle (rice 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 chosen implement and drain on the kitchen paper. Continue to dry the remaining noodles in batches as above. Try to finish the bowl yourself before serving.

Storage notes: These will stay crispy in an airtight container for a day or two.

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish set over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook slowly, turning down the heat to low-medium and stirring every 4–5 minutes until softened and starting to lightly brown in colour and become oily but not crispy – this should take about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves and ginger to a paste using a pestle and mortar, or blitz in a food processor.

Once the onions are ready, add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes to release the gorgeous flavours. Add a splash more oil, then brown the chicken pieces with the onion/garlic/ginger mix. 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. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer, uncovered, over a low, gentle heat for about 30 minutes. If the broth is too thick, add some water.

Serve hot on a bed of cooked egg noodles. Add a squeeze of lime juice and top with boiled eggs and the remaining garnishes in little bowls for everyone to help themselves to.

Storage notes: This chicken curry can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

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