October 31, 2014

Burmese Noodles

When I saw this recipe I am pretty sure I squealed with joy.  There used to be this fantastic Burmese restaurant in The Castro District of San Francisco where I ate noodles on a magical jungle patio as often as possible, and I was dying to try this recipe immediately and slurp delicious noodles in a nostalgia haze.

The recipe was easier than I expected it to be, with the payoff of a very flavorful sauce at the end.  The hardest part was probably finding shrimp paste (belachan), which I admittedly did not try too hard to track down, assuming it would be anywhere.  I was wrong, and so instead of trekking to an Asian market, I googled to find a substitute and it worked out fine. Blending up the spice mixture as the base of the soup is different, but it was a lot faster than dicing and sauteing everything separately.

These noodles are hearty and delicious, not quite a soup, but still a bit saucy, with sort of a mild curry flavor (though it did not have the exact right flavor that I was dreaming of).  I will probably make this again but I will try to track down the shrimp paste and see if it hits closer to home.  I loved the chicken in this dish, it was super tender and delicious from cooking in the coconut broth, and next time I may add some mushrooms and spinach, which probably wouldn't be considered Burmese at all anymore, but I just think they would taste good with this delicious sauce!

Burmese Noodles
Slightly adapted from Food52
Serves 4 - 6 hungry people

2 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp shrimp paste (belachan) or 2 Tbls fish sauce or 2 Tbls anchovy paste
1 Tbsp water (if using fish sauce, omit this ingredient)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp chili powder (plus a little extra to serve)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
2 tsp salt
12 oz packet of rice noodles
1 shallot, thinly sliced and fried to a crisp
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
2 limes, quartered
sambal olek chili sauce (optional)

Place the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and water (or fish sauce)  in a blender or food processor. Pulse well until you have a smooth paste.

Heat canola and sesame oils in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion/garlic/ginger blended mixture and saute for about 5 minutes to get the rawness out of the onions.

Add 1/4 tsp turmeric and 2 Tbsp chili powder, stirring to distribute throughout the onion mixture.

Add the chopped up chicken to the pot along with the salt.  Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well to coat with spice mixture.

Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and reduce soup to a simmer.  Cover and let the soup simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the other components are ready.

While the soup is simmering, juggle these other tasks:

Cook the rice noodles to the package directions.  Drain well and set aside.

Fry up some crispy shallots by heating enough canola oil over medium heat to cover your sliced shallots. Toss the shallots in and stir them around until they are golden brown and crispy.  This took about 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.

Boil a few eggs, peel them, and chop them up.

If the chicken is cooked through by now, taste your broth. Adjust salt if needed.

Assemble by scooping a large helping of rice noodles into a soup bowl. Top with ladlefuls of soup. The noodles should swim in coconut broth. Add pieces of chicken. Top with crispy shallots, chopped egg, a sprinkling of chili powder, some cilantro, and a large squirt of lime juice.  I also added some sambal olek which was really good with this dish if you like a bit more spice!

2014-10-25 Burmese Noodles 011


  1. Oh my goodness, I so want a bowl of it right now. It looks so good. Hope you're having a great day, so far. xo