Chiang Mai noodle curry

Chiang Mai noodle curry

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

Another very popular dish in Chiang Mai is this noodle curry, known as 'kow soi'. We couldn’t get permission to film this dish in the heritage-listed location we were originally hoping for — but I did get to cook and sample many bowls of the noodle curry, so here is my favourite version. This recipe uses Thai curry powder — a fragrant blend of ground pepper, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, fennel, chilli flakes, turmeric and ginger, available from spice shops and Asian markets.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml coconut cream
2 tablespoons shaved palm sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
400g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
250ml young coconut juice
500ml coconut milk
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
700g fresh flat egg noodles
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful coriander sprigs

Spice paste

Quantity Ingredient
2 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained and chopped
4 red asian shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cm piece fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 coriander roots, scraped clean and chopped
2 teaspoons shrimp paste
2 teaspoons thai curry powder


  1. To make the spice paste, blend the chilli, shallot, garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander roots and shrimp paste into a  fine paste, using a large mortar and pestle or a food processor. Mix the curry powder through and set aside.
  2. Pour the coconut cream into a wok and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the spice paste and stir until fragrant.
  3. Now add the palm sugar, soy sauce and chicken, mixing until the chicken is coated with all the ingredients.
  4. Stir in the coconut juice, coconut milk and 250 ml water. Bring to the boil, skimming off“ any impurities that rise to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  5. Meanwhile, half-fill a wok or large saucepan with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Slowly slide about 100 g of the noodles into the wok and fry for 30 seconds, or until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  6. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Divide the remaining noodles into four portions. Blanch each portion separately in the boiling water for 20 seconds, then remove and refresh in iced water — this allows the noodles to develop a nice firmness. Return them to the boiling water for another 10 seconds, then divide among four serving bowls.
  7. Ladle the chicken and curry sauce over the noodles. Garnish with the crisp noodles, spring onion and coriander and serve.
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