Well, it’s been a couple of months since I got back to the UK and straight back into running the restaurant. It has been very busy here. There’s been a lot do, of late. New recipes are being tested. For a couple of weeks now we have had on the menu ohno kaukswe. This translate as coconut noodles. It is in fact more than the name suggests. It is a light chicken curry based coconut soup. Delicately infused with cinnamon. Not too much coconut and thickened with copious amounts of chickpea flour, to the cook’s desired preference. (I like my soup not too thick nor too thin, just somewhere in the middle!). The soup is poured over noodles and is finished off with several bits and bobs to garnish, ranging from chilli flakes, egg slices, crispy fritters, a squeeze of lime. Similar garnishes to the mohinga dish. It is often likened to the Thai noodle dish Khao soi.
Some folks consider them as the second favourite ‘national dish of Burma’, after mohinga. This is of huge debate for many. I myself prefer this over mohinga.
I’m also frantically writing up all the recipes gathered in the restaurants visited in Yangon (Rangoon). There are a lot. (Towards the end I must admit it was beginning to get difficult to find the space in my tummy to eat!). It’s not been straightforward. Whilst we filmed, measurements were not exact so I’ve been replaying the film clips in slow motion and comparing with my scant note taking. It’s been a slow process. Once this scrutiny is complete the recipes will be posted here, so stay tuned in!
I’ve also been working on an online ‘Burmese Cookery School’ channel. Here, each week I’ll show you how to make Burmese dishes; some will be traditional, some regional and others unique to my family! This is nothing new, as all Burmese families will claim to have the most ‘authentic’ recipe!
Now, here’s my family recipe for ohno kaukswe. At first glance it might look complicated with a long list of ingredients but all of them can be found easily in any supermarket or local grocery store. It’s good for feeding a crowd so make a big batch and invite your family and friends! Let me know how you get on. Post a photo on twitter, facebook and instagram with #nilasburmesekitchen …………. (if you want a vegetarian or vegan alternative scroll to the end for a recipe 🙂
Ohno Kaukswe Recipe – serves 4-6
- 4 chicken thighs, taken off the bone and diced into 2cm pieces (save bones for the stock if you are making your own stock from scratch)
- 2 inches ginger, peeled
- equal amount garlic, peeled
- 1 finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- handful of coriander stems (leave the leafy parts for the garnish)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon neutral cooking oil (any type)
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 500ml chickpea broth
- 1 (400ml) can coconut milk
- 10 baby onions
- pre-cooked wheat noodles
- Rub chicken pieces with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- Place coriander root, ginger and garlic in a pestle mortar and pound to a paste (or use a mini blender)
- Fry paste and diced onion in the oil until translucent
- Add cinnamon stick fry for 1 min ro release oils
- Add chicken and fry until brown on edges
- Add fish sauce, paprika, remaining turmeric and salt. Fry briefly, about 2 mins. Don’t let it burn or stick to the pan.
- Add chicken/vegetable stock and the chickpea stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins. What you are trying to achieve is the removal of the raw bean taste from the broth. If you are unfamiliar, taste a bit of the soup at the beginning and then taste again in 30 mins. You will notice the difference.
- Add coconut milk and baby onions after 30 mins. Do not allow it to boil but gently allow it to come up to a simmer, slowly. Another 30 mins or so. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and fish sauce. Go easy if you are unsure. (You should always provide fish sauce at the table for your diners, at any Burmese meal, so that each individual can make adjustments to their liking).
- You will notice the soup thickening. Like any good stew, the longer the cooking the more enhanced and enriched the broth becomes. Depending on your preference you can now add more water if you wish to have a thin soup or allow it to continue to thicken slowly. When it’s at your desired consistency it’s ready to serve!
Chickpea stock – to thicken soup
- 5 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 500ml cold water
Method – very gradually add water to flour, using a whisk, ensuring there are no lumps, until you achieve a thick paste consistency. At this point you can add the remaining water in one go. Incorporate all the water. You can also heat up the chickpea stock on a low heat, stirring continuously with a whisk (in the same direction) for about 15 mins. before adding it to the rest of the soup mixture. But it’s not necessary.
- chopped coriander
- lime wedges
- crispy onions/shallots
- garlic/shallot oil
- toasted chilli flakes
- sliced hard boiled egg
- thinly sliced onions (rinsed in water to remove harshness)
- fish sauce
- thinly sliced fish cake (optional)
How to Serve – Place a handful of noodles in each bowl. Ladle over enough soup to cover them. Garnishes are left on the table for diners to help themselves.
And to end…..here’s a taste of what’s to come from my online Burmese Cookery School Channel this is a short out-take clip from some of the filming in Yangon. Filmed at the famous Padonmar Restaurant where traditional Burmese food is served. It took several takes before the final cut was made……and even then I don’t believe I pronounced the name correctly! I’ll post the final cut soon!…..
If you enjoyed watching please share, like and subscribe to the channel – every week I’ll show you how to make a Burmese dish and soon you’ll have enough collected up, to host your own traditional Burmese meal with which to impress your family and friends. Something different and unique.
And Burmese cuisine is quite often vegetarian and vegan so there will be lots of recipes for non-meat eaters too. 🙂
ADDENDUM- Here’s what to do to make a Vegetarian/Vegan option.
- Omit chicken and replace with a firm tofu, diced into small 1cm cubes. If you can find a smoked one, all the better.
- Add veggies of your choice such as mushrooms, sweetcorn, pumpkin/squash or peas. Dice/chop larger veggies into the same size as the tofu. This will give your broth extra flavour. Careful not to overcook your veggies!
- Omit fish sauce and add a little extra salt to taste.