Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ohno Khaukswe - Burmese Chicken Noodle Soup

Ohno Khaukswe
It's been a very exciting month for two reasons. First of all, two sisters who live in India are visiting family in Toronto, Canada and they, along with two brothers and our eldest sister-in-law, drove down to Windsor for lunch. My son who also lives in Toronto was visiting us here in Michigan, so we all met in Windsor at a Chinese restaurant. It was so nice to see my two sisters after 23 years.

Kyauk Kyaw
A school-mate with whom we reconnected as an alumni group on Whatsapp vacationed here with her son, who lives less than five miles away. It turns out her husband was born and spent his childhood in Pegu, Burma. It was an enormous pleasure to have them over for a Khaukswe meal and I also made Kyauk Kyaw, a coconut jelly, for dessert.

Coconut Chicken Soup
There are three parts to the khaukswe recipe of which the soup is the most complex. However, most of the components for this dish are available on supermarket shelves which makes life so much simpler. No longer do we have to scrape the meat out of the coconut and extract the milk, because coconut milk is now available in cans. Deep fried onions or shallots are imported from Holland, and deep fried garlic from Thailand.

Egg Noodles
The second component, fresh egg noodles, are available at Asian markets and come bundled in packages and simply need to be blanched in boiling water and strained. A touch of oil added after they are taken out of the boiling water prevents them from sticking together.

The third and final component are the garnishes, which clockwise from top left corner comprise lime wedges, minced cilantro, chopped boiled eggs, deep fried onions/shallots, sliced fresh onions, minced green onions, fried rice noodles, and toasted chickpea powder. Off to the side are chili-garlic oil and toasted chili flakes, not pictured here.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lb. ground chicken
2 tablespoons fish sauce
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
15-20 pearl onions
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon shrimp sauce (ngapi), mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1 14 oz. can thick coconut milk
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan), roasted
1 lb. thin egg noodles

Deep fried onion slices
Deep fried chopped garlic
Roasted chili flakes
5 chopped boiled eggs
Sliced green onions
Sliced yellow onion, soaked in ice water & drained
3 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 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 vegetable and sesame oils 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. Mix chickpea flour with a little cold water to a smooth cream, add to the 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. Serve noodles in a large bowl and the chicken soup in a separate bowl.
  16. Let each guest take a serving of noodles, ladle on a generous amount of the chicken soup and sprinkle garnishes on top.

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