“Best meal I’ve ever had.” “Can I take some with me?” “What’s the recipe?”
All comments I’ve received on this dish. And that makes me a proud papa trout.
Today, I’m putting a Thai twist on a American comfort classic. This is one of my signature dishes that I have been working on for a few years, and this most recent batch was the best it has been to date. Speaking of which, it also just so happened to be what I served for my first home cooking date with my significant other. To great success I might add.
I’m swapping out egg noodles for rice noodles; the same kind you would use for pad thai. The best way to use these is to pre-soak them in cold water and then add them at the end of cooking process as you turn off the heat. Otherwise they may break apart and become mushy. They should be firm, but easy to chew.
I’m using chicken thigh meat which is more commonly used in Asian cuisine than American (and it’s way tastier than chicken breast). I cook these half-way in a pan, and slice them after they’ve cooled. Then I add them to the soup at the end of the cooking.
I’ve also swapped out celery for fennel, which is similar in appearance and texture. For some reason, I have always intensely disliked celery; it’s just that one thing that my palette refuses to deem acceptable. Make sure you remove the core of the fennel bulb as it is too tough to eat; though you could steep it in the broth and remove it later. The anise notes added by the fennel really compliment the other flavors, so I’ve carried that flavor through in a few other places utilizing star anise, fennel seed, and fennel fronds.
This soup has an incredible depth of flavor. It is a great way to introduce people to Thai flavors in a modern-American sort of way. I love to pair this soup with my green curry puffs, which are flaky savory pastries with a spicy kick. There is green curry in both the soup and the pastry filling, but the green curry does not overwhelm the other flavors of coconut, fennel, lime, and lemongrass.
I knew I had a keeper on my hands (both the dish and the date) when I received the comment “best meal I’ve ever had.” This obviously made me smile ear to ear. I also received high praise from friends and family who have gotten to try this.
Both dishes are fairly easy to make, but take a little finesse to perfectly balance the fundamental “s” tastes of Thailand: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. The best way to do this is taste along the way and adjust the seasoning. If it’s too sweet, add more lime; If it’s too sour, add more sugar; If it’s too salty or spicy, dilute it with more broth or coconut milk. After making this soup many times over the last few years, I believe to have finally perfected the recipe. Although I’m much more of a dash of this, pinch of that, technique-driven cook… I will do my best to provide an accurate recipe.
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved
- sweet peppers, cut into rings
- about 1 cup of peas
- garlic, about 5 cloves, minced
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 package of rice noodles
- green curry paste, to taste (1 tbsp)
- fish sauce, to taste (3 tbsp)
- lime juice, to taste (3 tbsp)
- sugar, to taste (3 tbsp)
- 2-3 stalks of lemongrass
- 2-3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1-2 pods star anise
- chicken thighs, about 5
Season the chicken thighs with salt, white pepper, marjoram, and toasted ground fennel seed, and sear in a hot pan with oil. Don’t cook all the way, remove from heat, cut into strips, and set aside.
In a large heavy bottomed pot, sweat the onions and fennel. Add the curry paste and garlic, stir and cook a few minutes. Add the broth and coconut milk, reserving some coconut milk for garnish if desired. Add all seasonings: fish sauce, lime juice and zest, lime leaves, lemongrass, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken, peppers, and peas. Simmer for 5 minutes, tasting to adjust seasoning, then remove from heat. Add pre-soaked rice noodles. Garnish in a bowl with coconut milk, and fennel fronds.
I love to serve this soup with these vegetarian green curry pastries. These can be made a variety of different ways. I have made them with wonton wrappers, baked or fried, as well as with puff pastry, baked or fried. I find my favorite version is the baked puff pastry. The fried wonton wrappers are really good too but seem very similar to Indian samosas.
Thai Green Curry Puffs
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- 1/2 lb. cooked potatoes (really any kind works fine)
- 1/2 cup peas
- about 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- green curry paste, to taste (1/2 tbsp)
- fish sauce, to taste (1 tbsp)
- about 1 tbsp coconut milk
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Roll out puff pastry and cut into even squares with a pastry wheel or pizza cutter (about 9 squares). Place filling in the the center of each square, leaving enough space around the perimeter to fold. Fold one corner of the pastry to the opposite corner and crimp edges together. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Serve with Thai chicken noodle soup and enjoy! These taste extra amazing dunked in the soup, just sayin’.
Until next time,
May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!
~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)