Hello everyone! This will be the second and last dish that I will be sharing on our quick trip to Laos. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Lao cuisine and will only be sharing recipes that I am familiar with in terms of taste and similar dishes from their neighbouring countries.
Khua Mee, or in English, Fried & Caramelised Rice Noodles, is the Laotian cousin of what Pad Thai is in Thailand. Now, while I’ve never had Khua Mee before until I experimented for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I’ve had plenty of Pad Thai before, from my trips to Thailand, or just a visit to an authentic Thai restaurant back home in Brunei, and when I was living in Australia. Khua Mee is actually more sweet than savoury, and has a more unique flavour to it. This flavour comes from caramelising the sugar at the start of the cooking process which is then accompanied by other savoury flavours such as oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce. The sweet and savoury marriage of flavours is what sets this dish apart from other noodle dishes.
The dish is fairly easy to put together. I guess the only tricky part would be the caramelisation of the sugar if you’re not used to it. You want to keep the heat on a medium-low temperature and watch it like a hawk so that the sugar does not burn. Traditionally, this noodle dish is topped with a fried egg omelette and bean sprouts. If you want to make this dish more substantial, you can also bulk it up with beef, pork, chicken, or prawns. To keep this ovo-vegetarian friendly though, my choice of protein was firm tofu. I also used mushroom sauce instead of oyster sauce, and omitted the fish sauce by adding more salt, as needed, instead. To add more flavour, I used homemade vegetable stock instead of water as the liquid base for the rice noodles to soak up.
Push the Pad Thai aside for now because once you take a bite and get a mouthful of these caramelised noodles, fried omelette, fresh herbs, and fried chillies, you will know why this is a much loved Laotian dish. It’s also a perfect potluck party dish as it tastes even better when served at room temperature.
PREP TIME 30 MINS| COOKING TIME 10 MINS| SERVES 4
For the fried omelette
4 large free range eggs
Spring onion, green part
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
For the fried noodles
1 packet (500g) rice noodles
4 tbsp cooking oil
4 tbsp white granulated sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 small red onions, halved then sliced thinly
1 & 1/2 cup homemade vegetable stock*
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mushroom sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 cup bean sprouts
Fried red chillies
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Calamansi or lemon, to garnish
*You can use store-bought vegetable stock, or water instead.
Noodles: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Fried Omelette: While the rice noodles are soaking, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, season with salt and cracked black pepper, and add the spring onion.
Add cooking oil in a large pan over high heat. Pour in the egg mixture and cook until firm and slightly brown around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for a further 1 minute then transfer to a plate and cut into long strips. Set aside.
Fried Noodles: Add the 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in the same pan, and bring the heat down to medium-low. Add the sugar and caramelise until melted and lightly golden in colour.
Add the minced garlic and onions, and cook for about 30 seconds. Don’t cook it for too long as the sugar will start to darken faster and most likely burn at this point.
Immediately add in the vegetable broth to stop the caramelisation process of the sugar, followed by the light and dark soy sauce, mushroom sauce, white part of the spring onion, and season with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to medium, mix, and then leave to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes for the flavours to develop.
Add the soaked rice noodles and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the bean sprouts, fried tofu and fried omelette slices. Mix and cook until the liquid has been absorbed then add in the green part of the spring onion and the fried red chillies.
Transfer to individual serving plates and add a squeeze of calamansi or lemon juice before eating. Enjoy!
Hello Everyone! February is flying by so fast and I can’t believe that we’re already on our second last Cambodian recipe for the month! Tonight I will be sharing a Cambodian breakfast staple known as Num Banh Chok, or in English, Fish Noodle Soup. It’s a traditional breakfast dish that consists of rice noodles served with a fish gravy and freshly foraged wild grown Cambodian vegetables (some of which does not have an English name), and eaten with a few chilli peppers on the side.
In rural Cambodia, the rice vermicelli noodles used in this dish are all done and made by hand with a stone mill. They are then sold at the local markets where vendors would come early in the morning to purchase it, and then sold to the local residents. Rice is first boiled until soft and then grounded into a wet dough with a heavy stone mill. Once all the rice is ground, the wet dough is placed into a large cloth bag. Heavy mill parts are placed on top to squeeze out excess water. This is the beginning of the fermentation process. Once done, the result is a firm, dry but still sticky flour. To see just how labour intensive the noodle making process is, read this article here. Of course, ain’t nobody got time for that, so I just used store-bought rice vermicelli noodles from my local grocer.
Like many other Cambodian food recipes, Num Banh Chok’s main ingredient, besides mudfish, is the yellow kroeung paste. I covered this in my blog two weeks ago when I made Amok Trei (Steamed Fish Curry). Instead of mudfish though, again I used tilapia fish because that is what I am familiar with. The other main ingredient that is definitely not optional and irreplaceable – rhizome or finger-roots in English, khchiey in Cambodia. Unlike ginger, turmeric, and galangal which are commonly used throughout the world, khchiey is relatively obscure and is mostly used for medical purposes in some Asian countries. When fresh, khchiey has an earthy, peppery, and much milder flavour than ginger and galangal. However, since I could not source any here in the Philippines, I used ginger instead for this my ‘not so authentic’ version of Num Banh Chok.
Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on A Wandering Foodie.
PREP TIME 25 MINS| COOKING TIME 45 MINS| SERVES 4-6
For the soup base
Heads and bones from the reserved tilapia fish filets
Assortment of greens (I used mustard leaves, water spinach, and mint leaves)
Soup Base: In a large stockpot, bring the 4 litres of water to a boil, over high heat, together with all the other ingredients for the soup base, except for the shrimp paste. Once the stock comes to a rapid boil, turn the heat down to bring it to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Kroeung Mixture: Meanwhile, prepare the kroeung mixture. In a mortar and pestle, pound the kroeung paste together with the roasted peanuts, birds eye chillies, ginger, turmeric, and garlic. If you have a small-sized mortar, you can pound the mixture in batches and then combine them into a bowl.
Add the fish sauce, sugar, and coconut milk into the bowl with the kroeung paste mixture, and mix thoroughly. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes to let all the flavour infuse together.
Rice Vermicelli Noodles: Bring water to a boil in a separate pot. Add in the pack of rice vermicelli noodles and let it cook for about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the noodles are cooking, prepare a large bowl filled with ice-cold water.
Once the noodles are cooked and the texture is to your liking, strain and place the cooked noodles into the cold bowl of water to stop its cooking process. Start taking out equal handfuls of noodle and portion them into individual serving bowls and set aside.
Num Bahn Chok: Once the soup base is done, strain and return the broth to the stockpot. Add the shrimp paste to the broth and let it come back to a boil over medium-high heat. It is important to add the paste first before any other flavouring ingredients in order to lessen its strong scent. Adjust the broth to taste with salt and sugar to your liking, if needed.
Once boiled, turn the heat down and add the fish filets into the broth and cook for about 10 minutes. Once cooked through, remove from the broth and set aside.
Cook the vegetables (mustard greens, water spinach, and banana blossoms) in the broth for a few minutes, then remove and set aside.
Turn the heat back up and add the kroeung mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes.
Carefully ladle the hot soup into the prepared bowls with noodles. Top with the cooked fish filets, vegetables, mint leaves, and more sliced chillies if you wish.
Hello Everyone! So, I’ve been told that I don’t write as much as I used to, and that’s only because there’s really nothing much to tell. Well okay, maybe a part of the reason is also that I’m always mentally tired by the end of the day when I get around to writing my blog posts. I try to write them in advance so that I could at least add some enthusiasm to my posts, but I always end up procrastinating – and I’m sorry for that! Just bare with me until the end of the year and hopefully my content will be much better when the New Year kicks in 🙂
Anyway, let’s get down to business for tonight’s post; the last week of Noodle Month! Again, the month just flew right by! December is just around the corner, and sooner or later it’ll be Christmas and then the New Year! Tonight, I am sharing with you a popular dish in Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia – Laksa! I wouldn’t say that this dish is at the top of my favourite noodle dish (only because there are many other noodle dishes that I prefer than laksa), but if I want it, I’ll have it!
The plan was to make my own laksa paste from scratch, and I know it’s no excuse, but time was short on my hands and I just made the decision to buy a ready-made, packeted paste from the stores. Also, if I made my own paste, we’d have a lot of left over ingredients (that is, if we didn’t end up using all of it), or a surplus of paste that would’ve ended up sitting in the freezer for a long time, and eventually in the trash since we don’t eat laksa that often at home. However, feel free to make your own paste and just follow the ingredients from the recipe below 🙂
Before I dive into the recipe, I’ll just talk a little bit about what Laksa is for those of you who don’t know what it is. Laksa is actually a combination of Chinese and Malaysian cuisine that consists of rice noodles/vermicelli served as a spicy soup dish with various meats such as chicken, prawn, or fish. The soup is either based on a rich and spicy curry with coconut milk, or a sour tamarind soup. The elements of a curry laksa can be distinguished by the following:
Coconut milk is used
Curry-like soup (includes curry as one of its ingredients)
Except for bean sprouts, no other vegetable is used
Bean curd puff is used
Served with thick or thin rice vermicelli (usually thick); occasionally served with yellow mee
Hard-boiled egg may be added
Slices of fish cake and either prawns or chicken is used
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 30-45 MINS| SERVES 4-5
250g thick rice vermicelli noodles
200g coconut milk
100g prawns, peeled and deveined
4-5 cups chicken stock
3 pcs dried bay leaves
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large free range eggs, hard-boiled
1 chicken crown, breasts removed and sliced, bone reserved
1 packet (200g) Malaysian Curry Laksa Paste
1 pc firm tofu, deep fried and cut into chunks
1 pc fish cake, sliced diagonally
1 small brown onion, diced
Whole black peppercorns
Add the reserved chicken bone, chicken breast dried bay leaves, about a teaspoon or two of whole black peppercorns, and salt to a medium-sized pot filled with about 1.5L of hot/boiling water. Turn the heat up to high and leave to boil for about 30 minutes. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breast from the stock and set aside to rest and cool down before slicing into it.
While the stock is boiling away, quickly blanch the sliced fish cakes and prawns in the stock, about 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice vermicelli noodles in and cook according to packet instructions, about 15 minutes for mine.
Drain and then divide the noodles equally into 4-5 individual serving bowls. Top with the beansprouts, chicken slices, fish cake slices, fried tofu, hard-boiled egg slices, and prawns. Set aside.
Heat a bit of oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the garlic until fragrant and golden brown, and then add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes in total.
Add the laksa paste and fry for about a minute or two before adding the chicken stock in. Give it a goo mix and then bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a slow simmer and then add in the coconut milk. Leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Once the soup is done, ladle it into the prepared bowls and garnish with some spring onion. Serve immediately with some sambal and calamansi on the and enjoy!