Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Khao Soi ເຂົ້າຊອຍ | Laotian fermented soybean noodle soup

Well, I find that I have too narrowly defined the scope of this blog to Việt cuisine given how I cook--improvisational and fusion.  My recent millet-stuffed deboned whole chicken, duck a l'orange, gluten-free shin splints (aka thin mints), dairy-free chia avocado chocolate pudding being recent culinary successes that have not made it to the blog because the content didn't quite fit.

So today, I present one of my favorite Laotian-style dishes after nam khao | fried sticky rice salad and sai ua | lemongrass sausage--Khao Soi.  This dish consists of fermented soybeans and ground pork served over rice noodles and pork broth that I first sampled at Vietiane Cafe.  I just learned that it is actually Burmese in origin (thanks internet!).  I reverse engineered it based on taste and then because my pantry is what it is, I improv'd some of the ingredients using dang myun | Korean glass noodles instead of rice noodles since I forgot to soak the rice noodles ahead of time.  And I always add more veggies where I can.  Here, I used blanched cabbage.  The making of this dish reminds me a lot of making Hủ Tiếu Bà Năm Sa Đéc | Mrs. Five's Noodle Dish from Sa Dec (which I've also learned is Hokkien-Khmer in origin).

I stopped eating soybeans some years ago because of the phyto-estrogens and the GMO issue.  Every now and then I will make an exception for organic, fermented soybeans.  So this is my exceptional recipe for fermented soybeans.  Tương cự đà| is a fermented soybean & roasted rice powder sauce from north Việt Nam; it can be substituted with miso and natto.  Natto has a very strong challenging flavor so you may want to omit if you don't like stinky ferments.  If you wanted to be fancy, you could also add thịnh | toasted rice powder (pan-toasted, finely ground rice grains) but it's not necessary.  Read the labels for miso & natto carefully to make sure it's organic, GMO-free, MSG-free and is naturally fermented with koji cultures (rice or barley malt).

One cooking shortcut tip when I am too pressed for time to mince garlic and onions/shallots by hand, I use an immersion blender to blend quartered onion and whole garlic cloves adding enough water to make it easier to process.  Then I saute until the water steams off.  The traditional way of making seasonings in Southeast Asia is to grind spices and liquid into a paste with mortar and pestle.  I rarely if ever have the luxury of time to do this though I'm sure it tastes amazing.

Khao Soi ເຂົ້າຊອຍ | Laotian fermented soybean noodle soup
Fermented soy (From L to R: miso,
 tương cự đà, and natto.)
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 sweet onion
  • olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground pork or beef
  • fish sauce
  • black pepper
  • sea salt
  • tương cự đà and/or dollop of fermented miso and 3 oz of fermented natto
  • pork broth
  • rice noodles
  • cabbage, shredded & blanched
  • baby power greens (kale, spinach, chard)
  • cilantro
Soak rice noodles in water for at least 10 minutes then cook in boiling water for 7-10 minutes until soft.

Saute shallot/onion & garlic until fragrant with olive oil.  Add ground meat and break it up into small pieces.  Add fish sauce, black pepper, sea salt.  Saute until just cooked.  Turn off the heat and add tương cự đà and/or miso & natto.  Stir until blended and remove from heat.  I add the ferments at the very end to avoid cooking off the beneficial enzymes and probiotics.

To serve, add noodles, veggies, fermented soybean mix, and hot broth to the bowl.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Ăn ... Ngon Lành|Eat ... Delectably!

1 comment:

  1. I thought about trying this recipe but it looked complicated so I just ordered it form restaurant. Result was a solid and taste is like wow. Chinese and Indian restaurant


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