Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ohno Khauk Swe Made Easy

Coconut Chicken Soup
Lunch is Ready!
My bowl of Ohno Khauk Swe
I've made this meal many times and usually follow the recipe used by my family. You may notice that it's not a simple preparation, so this time I made several modifications to simplify the process. First of all, I planned ahead and did the shopping earlier in the week. Two nights before, after making sure that the ground chicken and chicken thighs had been refrigerated to thaw overnight, I made the onion-garlic-ginger-chili paste and refrigerated that also. The night before, I prepared the soup to which I made one time-saving change. Instead of roasting the half-cup of chickpea flour used to thicken the soup, I cooked half a cup of red lentils (masoor dal) in two cups of water and added it to the soup along with the coconut milk towards the end. This not only saved a whole lot of time, but also added a lovely flavour and creaminess to the soup. It also lightened the soup so it was not as rich as in the original recipe. On the day of the lunch, all I had to do was heat the soup, cook the noodles and prepare the garnishes. Using ready-made deep fried onions and garlic are further time-saving ways of simplifying the preparation of this meal.

Ingredients (Serves 8)
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lb. ground chicken
2 tablespoons fish sauce
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
15-20 pearl onions
2 Tbsp. ginger, chopped
1 tsp. shrimp sauce (ngapi), mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. chili powder or Kashmiri mirch
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz.) can light coconut milk
1 (14 oz.) can thick coconut milk
1/2 cup red lentils (masoor dal), cooked
1 lb. thin egg noodles

Deep fried onion slices
Deep fried chopped garlic
Roasted chili flakes
6 chopped boiled eggs
Sliced green onions
Sliced yellow onion, soaked in ice water & drained
2 limes cut into eighths
Chopped cilantro
Garlic infused oil

  1. Cut chicken thighs into serving pieces; marinate in fish sauce and some oil for 20 minutes.  
  2. Boil chopped onions and garlic cloves in a cup of water until translucent.  Drain and reserve the liquid.
  3. In a blender, process 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, garlic, boiled onion, ginger and shrimp paste.
  4. Heat remaining oil and fry chicken pieces until they change color.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add blended ingredients along with the cream that settles on top of the coconut milk in the 2 cans.
  6. Add ground chicken and fry until lightly browned.
  7. Add chili powder, paprika, salt, light coconut milk and reserved liquid from boiled onions.
  8. Simmer until ground chicken is tender; add a cup of simmering chicken broth if mixture becomes too dry.
  9. Heat thick coconut milk and the rest of the chicken broth in the microwave.
  10. Add thick coconut milk to the ground chicken in saucepan, bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent mixture from curdling.
  11. Add fried chicken pieces, along with pearl onions and simmer for 15 minutes.
  12. Stir cooked red lentils into soup and cook for a further 5 minutes uncovered.  There should be lots of gravy.
  13. Just before serving, cook noodles in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 6 minutes.
  14. Pour cold water into pan to stop noodles from further cooking, and drain in a colander.
  15. Mix some oil into the noodles and serve in a large bowl, the chicken soup in a separate bowl along with the garnishes. 
Let each guest take a serving of noodles, ladle on a generous amount of chicken soup and sprinkle garnishes overtop.

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