Looking for a delicious creamy noodle dish? Why not try making Myanmar’s khow suey, the culinary, cross-border cousin of Northern Thailand’s equally popular speciality, khao soi.

Two hands hold out a bowl of steaming khow suey, a Burmese soup dish containing noodles, vegetables and meat, in a creamy, yellow-coloured broth.
The noodle dish khow suey originated in the Shan State of Myanmar © Nungning20 / Getty Images

What is it?

This fragrant Burmese noodle dish, which originated in Myanmar’s Shan State, is a riot of flavours and textures that can be served as a ‘build your own bowl’ crowd-pleaser. It is very similar (and potential predecessor) to the more internationally-recognised dish khao soi, which is a firm favourite in Northern Thailand (particularly in the markets of Chiang Mai) and Laos, with the delicacy largely using the same ingredients but being spiced to suit local tastes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the curry paste: 
5cm (2in) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into large pieces 
5 large garlic cloves, peeled 
2–3 red chillies 
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

For the curry: 
vegetable oil 
1 tsp turmeric powder 
1kg (2lb 2oz) skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces  
800ml (1⅓ pints) coconut milk 
1 tbs chickpea (besan) flour
370g (13oz) dried egg noodles 
salt and pepper to taste 

For the toppings: 
bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems, roughly chopped 
1 cup chopped spring onions (scallions) 
1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced 
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges 
4 lemons, cut into wedges 
chilli powder, gently roasted in a pan or oven

A top-down view of a bowl of khao soi sitting on a tabletop. Khao soi is a noodle soup with meat and vegetables with a creamy, yellowish broth.
Khow suey is similar to its cross-border culinary cousin khao soi, which is popular in Northern Thailand © Nungning20 / Getty Images

How to cook

Step 1: To make the curry paste, grind the ginger, garlic, red chillies and onion into a thick paste in a mortar and pestle or food processor.
Step 2: Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan and add the curry paste and turmeric. Heat gently, stirring, until fragrant.
Step 3: Add the chicken, season with salt and cook until tender, 10–15 minutes.
Step 4: Add half of the coconut milk and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Stir the chickpea flour through the remaining coconut milk and add to the pan, warming through on a low heat.
Step 6: Cook the egg noodles in a pan of boiling water and drain.
Step 7: Heat 1½ cups of vegetable oil a small pan until very hot (about 5 minutes). Taking 2 cups of the cooked noodles, fry about ½ cup at a time, spreading them out thinly with a fork to ensure they cook through. 
Step 8: When golden, remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and break into smaller pieces for serving.
Step 9: To serve, place the boiled noodles in a bowl and spoon over the chicken curry. Top with coriander, spring onions, red onion, hard-boiled egg wedges and fried noodles. Squeeze over lemon juice and a sprinkle of roasted chilli powder.

A view overlooking the temples of Bagan at sunset. The ancient temples, surrounded by field and greenery, are silhouetted against the sunset. A couple of hot air balloons also fly overhead, adding to the scenic view.
The smell of khow suey evokes the magical landscapes of Myanmar © Monthon Wa / Getty Images

Tasting notes

Slurp up the silky egg noodles coated in creamy coconut curry and savour the freshness of the coriander (cilantro), spring onions (scallions) and ginger. Enjoy the crispy texture and audible crunch of the fried noodles then wait for the roasted chilli powder to deliver its earthy kick. Be sure to squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over your bowl to add another taste element and make every ingredient sing. Party time? Khow suey is ideal for entertaining large groups – line up the noodles, curry and assorted toppings and invite your guests to ‘build your own bowl’, tailor-making their dish to their own palate.

Other recipes in this series:
Mexican tacos
US-style eggs baked in avocado
Indonesian nasi goreng

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Bowl Food.

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