Growing up, one of the best after-school treats was Maggi noodles. Anyone who lives in India or has spent any extended period of time there knows exactly what I mean. Ready in 2 minutes, it was instant ramen noodle nirvana, combined with the
crack in a packet dubious mix of ingredients that came in the accompanying “masala” seasoning packet. My mother was always suspicious of Maggi noodles, and only allowed it as an occasional snack, and always tried to health it up with some chopped vegetables. Ha! These bright little yellow packages of Maggi are dangerous – I’ve been known to sneak one into my basket at the Indian grocery store now and then, and feel almost guilty when I eat them.
This Burmese khao soi is like a grown up version of Maggi noodles. Which means, some of you are probably rushing to the stove to make it right now! It takes a little more time, has a longish looking ingredient list, but is significantly better for you. This recipe also allowed me to legitimately use curry powder, which is one of those spices available in this country that’s supposed to be Indian, but certainly tastes like no masala powder I’ve heard of. I added the vegetables I love, and the entire thing soaks in the delicious sauce that makes your whole house smell amazing. And because I love the play of textures, I topped each bowl with crispy fried chow mein noodles. I think with this, I have finally come up with a reasonable alternative to waiting two hours outside our favorite Burmese restaurant in San Francisco. Or something.
Burmese Khao Soi Noodles
Recipe adapted from a few sources
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 oz (half a box) extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced into rounds
handful sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
½ cup babycorn, sliced into rounds
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ medium red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 inch piece ginger, minced (I use a Microplane to grate it)
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder (if you’d like some extra spice)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt to taste
2 cups Chinese wheat noodles (I used fresh chow mein, but udon or hakka would work too)
Toppings: mung bean sprouts, chopped cilantro, sliced green onion, fried noodles
In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and slowly cook the onions, garlic and ginger over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your tofu and vegetables. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the cubed tofu. It should sizzle once it hits the pan. Add a sprinkling of salt, toss and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and wipe down the pan if needed. Add the remaining tbsp oil and lower the heat just a little. Add the carrots, broccoli, and sugar snap peas and sauté for a few minutes to brown them, then add a touch of water and cover to steam them a little and cook them faster. Then add the mushrooms and salt to taste and cook until tender. Add the baby corn. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Once your onion mixture begins to get soft and caramelized, add red curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, coriander powder, and chili powder. Cook for a minute or so. Add the coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and salt. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, 5-7 minutes.
Cook your noodles according to the package directions. If you want some fried noodles too, deep fry them until crispy and drain on paper towels.
To serve, put noodles in a bowl, add vegetables and tofu, top with curry sauce, mung bean sprouts, fried noodles, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to combine. We also topped ours with our favorite chili garlic oil.