shanghai-style scallion noodles with ground pork and bean sprouts

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This is an easy weeknight meal that only takes 30 minutes from start to finish. I used ramen noodles but you can use thin Chinese egg noodles, fresh or dried, or spaghetti. The crispy scallions add a piquant note to the salty-sweet sauce, dressed with fresh jalapeño pepper rounds and more scallions. I wanted more vegetables in the dish so I added the bean sprouts. You can also add stir-fried baby kale, shredded napa cabbage, carrot sticks, or celery or a combination. 

Shanghai-Style Scallion Noodles with Ground Pork and Bean Sprouts (adapted from Milk Street)
200 grams dried ramen noodles (not instant)
4 tablespoons rice bran oil or any vegetable oil, divided
2-3 cups scallions (2 bunches), whites and greens separated
230 grams lean ground pork
2 teaspoons salted olives, chopped into a paste
1/3 cup mushroom soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 generous handfuls of fresh bean sprouts, roots trimmed
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, ends trimmed, sliced into thin rounds.
Fish sauce to taste

Trim roots and tips of scallions. Cut into 3 inch lengths and then slice vertically into slivers. Separate whites and greens.

Bring 4 liters water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the noodles and cook until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse to cool. Drain again. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the noodles and toss. Set aside.

Mix together in a small bowl the soy sauce and the sugar. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Add white parts of scallions and fry until almost brown and crisp, 4-7 minutes. Add half the green parts and continue frying until brown and crisp, 4-7 minutes. Remove from oil to a plate.

If there isn’t enough oil, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the olive paste and stir it around. Add the pork and cook, stirring and breaking up large pieces until the pork is brown and crispy.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the pork and cook until it simmers. Add the bean sprouts and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and crispy scallions, and toss to combine pork and vegetables. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add fish sauce if desired. Remove to a serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining scallions on top with the jalapeño rounds. Serve at once.

green rice noodles with pesto and crunchy oven-fried fish fillet

IMG_0629.jpgRecently there have been a lot of recipes and tips for using ingredients already in the pantry and freezer. Call it quarantine cooking. It’s also a good idea not to waste food and use up what is there before it passes its Best By Date. This pesto recipe was a marvelous find for I never use up all the herbs and greens I buy. I can whiz all the leftover greens and freeze a batch for later use. And since I keep frozen fish fillets on hand, it’s a no-brainer to just bring out the panko breadcrumbs because I seldom have white bread in the house. I didn’t use the tartar sauce that came with the recipe, instead I had on hand some Thai chili-lime sauce. This being Lent, I paired the noodles with fish, but you could substitute grilled shrimp or chicken or pork tonkatsu. 

Pesto
1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1 cup chopped basil
1 cup chopped parsley or spinach
1 cup chopped chives or arugula (rocket salad)
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 Thai chile seeded and chopped (add seeds if you want more heat)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice bran oil or vegetable oil
Salt
2-4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
8 oz rice sticks (pad thai thickness)

In the workbowl of a food processor, add the greens, garlic, lime juice and zest, chile, olive oil, rice bran oil, and salt to taste. Process until pureed and emulsified.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Boil a large pot of water. Add the rice noodles and bring to a boil again. Cook 5-7 minutes or until the noodles are soft but pleasantly chewy.  Drain them in a colander and rinse in cold water. Drain. Pour the drained noodles in a large bowl and pour 1/3 of the pesto over them. Gently toss. Add more pesto to taste. Plate the noodles and top with toasted sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Note: The pesto freezes well if you’re not going to use it right away.

Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish (from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 4

Fish
4 haddock or cod fillets, 1 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (sub 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (I used wasabi)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons flour

Tartar Sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced capers
2 tablespoon sweet pepper relish
1 minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Put a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Make the crumb coating. In the bowl of a food processor, put the bread pieces, melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse 8×1 second bursts until you get a coarse crumb. Spread the crumbs in an ungreased rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes then put into a pie plate. Add 1/2 minced shallot and parsley. Mix well and set aside. Increase the oven heat to 425˚F.

Make the egg wash. In a large bowl, put the eggs, mayonnaise, horseradish, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add 5 tablespoons flour. Whisk until well combined. Scrape into a pie plate and set aside.

Dredge the fillets and bake. In a third pie plate, add 1/4 cup flour and set aside. Pat dry the fillets and salt and pepper them lightly. Dredge each fillet in the flour, then the egg wash, and finally the crumb coating. Pat generously with crumbs. Put on prepared rack. Bake 18-20 minutes or until the fish fillets reach an internal temperature of 140˚F.

Make the Tartar Sauce. While the fish is baking, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

sweet and spicy shrimp with rice noodles

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It’s Lent and I’m scouring my recipe collection for ideas for meatless meals. I found this in the folder 300 calorie dinners, and it had shrimp and veg in it. So. I adjusted the recipe to taste because I don’t like spicy food but Andy does. It’s always easier to spice food up than it is to take spice away, so I reduced the pepper. Let him add pepper himself, and he does, with a free hand. I added sweet peppers, made the Thai chili optional, and substituted sugar snap peas for snow peas.

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Rice Noodles
Makes 4 servings

Marinade for the shrimp
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground fresh chili paste (e.g. sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) shelled deveined shrimp

Noodles and Sauce/Seasonings
Half a pack (about 4 oz) of uncooked flat rice noodles or rice sticks, thin kind
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted cashews (I used salted)
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 green Thai chili (optional)
Half a medium bell pepper (can combine red, yellow and/or green)
3/4 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed (can use snow peas)
3/4 cup fresh organic bean sprouts

In a medium bowl, mix together the marinade. Add just enough of the chili paste as you can handle the heat. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside on the countertop until ready to use, about 30 minutes, while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Cook noodles according to package directions. I cooked the noodles in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes on medium high, then off the heat and let them soak in the hot water for another 2 1/2 minutes. Drain into a colander. Rinse in cold water and drain again. Set aside.

Cook’s Note: The key to this dish is to have the noodles al dente, so don’t forget them. If you do, they become gummy and pasty, and you will have to toss them out.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Add the cashews, garlic, ginger, and chili, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant and garlic begins to brown. Remove cashew mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Increase heat to high and add up to a tablespoon of oil to the pan if there is none left in the pan. Add the sweet peppers, carrots and salt to the pan. Stir fry about 2 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the shrimp with the marinade. Stir-fry 2 minutes or until the shrimp become opaque. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in noodles and sugar snap peas, cook for 1 minute. Use a pair of tongs to toss the noodles to coat them in the sauce. Return the cashew mixture to the pan. Add the bean sprouts and cook until heated through, tossing frequently. Serve at once.

 

ground pork curry noodles

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This is an easy weeknight dinner dish that cooks up in less than half an hour. I used to make it years ago for Andy and the kids, and I was reminded of it when we were at the Cheesecake House last weekend, and I ordered it for dinner. Its curry flavor can be mild or pungent, depending on how you like it, but the important thing is not to cook the lettuce but to heat it through at the last minute.

Ground Pork Curry Noodles

220 g organic dried rice noodles
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or rice bran oil
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
350 g lean ground pork
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
Nam pla (fish sauce) to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken soup powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch, optional
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped

Boil a large pot of water and let it simmer.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Cook the onion until it is wilted. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Mix in the curry powder, nam pla, and pepper to taste. Put in the soup powder and water. If desired, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and add the chopped lettuce, toss to combine.

Cook the noodles in the simmering water about 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss with a little bit of oil so that the noodles don’t stick together.

Serve the ground pork sauce over the hot noodles. Eat at once.

shrimp lo mein

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This is a simple one-pot supper dish that only takes 30 minutes to prepare. The taste is lightly flavored with hoisin sauce, but if you don’t like it, or if you don’t have any, you can leave it out.

Shrimp Lo Mein
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5-7 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoons rice bran oil (can use vegetable oil)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 medium yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, cut into 3 inch matchsticks
250 g large shrimp
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
150 g lo mein noodles (can substitute fettucine or linguine)

In a large pot, boil 4 liters of water. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water. Drain noodles and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil and sauté the shrimp until pink and opaque. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, cornstarch, chicken broth, and hoisin sauce until smooth. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Lightly sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the snap peas, onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are bright and just crisp tender, about 2-5 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until the sauce bubbles. Add the cooked shrimp. Turn off the heat.

Toss the noodles in the warm cooking water then drain. Add noodles to the pot and toss with vegetables and shrimp. Serve at once.

new york revisited: soba noodles with pork and sweet ginger scallion sauce

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The last time I made this dish we were living in New York City. For old times’ sake and all that, I made it again, this time without sirloin steak. I used pork tenderloin for tender juicy bites to go with the sesame-soy-ginger-scallion sauce.

Soba noodles with sweet ginger scallion sauce (Modified from Simply Reem)

8-9 oz. dry soba noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons chili oil (substitute 2 teaspoons chili paste with garlic and 1 teaspoon oil)
Coarse salt, optional
Fresh ground black pepper, optional

Mix the scallions, ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl. Set it aside for 10 -15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Cook the noodles.

Cook’s Note: To cook soba, rinse the dried noodles first. According to Food 52, this reduces the gumminess of the noodles and they won’t stick together in cooking. Like rice grains, I rinsed the noodles until the water was clear. Bring pot of water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook in simmering water 5-8 minutes or until cooked through. If al dente, cook a few minutes longer. Rinse and drain in cool water.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and sesame seeds. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. If too sour, add up to a teaspoon sugar. Serve at once.

OPTIONAL: To make the pork, I thinly sliced about 1 cup of pork tenderloin and marinated it for 10-15 minutes in soy sauce and pepper. Then I stir-fried the pork in a 2 teaspoons of hot oil until cooked through. Toss with the noodles.

from my kitchen window

Typhoon Haiyan missed us. It’s been sunny and HOT here. Of course, as soon as the kitchen light snapped on this evening, Roti, the backdoor neighbors’ little white dog barked for his treat. He’s the cutest little beggar, so after his little performance I obliged him with a dog cookie. Khun Yupha who goes walking after dinner with her sister, saw a huge python just lying across their path in the soi.  She immediately scooped up Roti. She thinks it got her other dog last summer. It’s hard to imagine that even in the city of Bangkok, we have all manner of reptiles: pythons, cobras, and water monitor lizards. It’s still a jungle out there. It’s still eat or be eaten. And that reminds me that the true force of nature is lurking in the quiet sois and waterways deep inside the city.

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I’m glad Gigi the Mutt is safe inside our yard. She did so enjoy crunching these bones up afterwards! Andy  had requested Chinese barbecued spare ribs with sesame noodles this evening,  so to cut the heat in the kitchen, I made the ribs in the Sharp Healslo convection oven. It doesn’t generate as much heat as the range oven. I like these sesame noodles, especially when I can add my favorite veggies. This time, I used baby mustard greens and winter melon. I also recommend asparagus, sugar snap peas, and snow pea pods.

recipe redux: chinese barbecued spareribs and sesame noodles

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

My sister-in-law requested this recipe for Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles (from Food 52). We had it for dinner made with a home-made sesame dressing rather than with tahini sauce, and the taste was superior. For the Chinese barbecued spare rib recipe follow this link. So, Mimi, bon appétit.

Sesame Noodles (adapted from Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1-10 minutes depending on whether you are using fresh or dried noodles
Servings: 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish

For the sesame dressing:
3/4 cup white sesame seeds plus 1 tablespoon
7 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
3 medium or 2 large shallots (I used one large onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced (I used 2 garlic cloves)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
3/4 to 1 cup water (or less)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For the noodles:
12 ounces dry spaghetti pasta (or fresh Chinese egg noodles, if available)
3 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 cup blanched snow peas (I used asparagus in the photo. Green beans will do too)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup daikon radish, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (I used whole peanuts)
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Preparation

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sesame seeds and toast, stirring,  until golden brown and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Put the toasted seeds in a blender. Save the skillet for the next step.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe says to toast the sesame seeds in a 350˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. I find the toasting them on the stove top is faster.

In the empty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots or onion and garlic until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add the shallots or onion, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons peanut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chile paste to the sesame seeds in the blender. Blend on high speed just until a thick, rough paste forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop blending when most of the seeds have broken up and been puréed. After the paste forms, it will begin to get oily if you continue to purée it, as the seeds begin to give off their oil. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more sugar, chile paste, and/or soy sauce.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe recommends putting up the puree in the refrigerator for a day, to give the flavors time to develop.  This is not necessary, however.

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. If using fresh Chinese egg noodles, gently fluff the noodles and add them to the water, stirring. Return the water to a boil and cook the noodles for just 10 to 30 seconds. Drain the noodles immediately and cool them under cold running water. Drain well. Put the cold noodles in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons oil.

To dress the drained cooled noodles, drain off any oil that has gathered on the top of the purée. Whisk about 3/4 cup water into the purée to thin it and to reach a creamy consistency; the sauce will lighten in color and emulsify. Add more water as needed. Add the chopped cilantro to the dressing.

Cook’s Note: Adding the chopped cilantro is optional at this point because it will be added as a garnish on top of the noodles at the end.

In a large bowl, toss the noodles with about half the dressing. Add the snow peas or asparagus, red pepper, and daikon, if using, and gently toss to combine (using a pair of silicone tipped tongs is recommended). Taste and add more dressing if desired. Put the noodles in a large serving bowl or on individual plates. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, and sliced scallions, or pass little bowls of the garnishes at the table.

sesame noodles, take-out style

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

I borrowed The Essential New York Times Cook Book (2010) from the NYPL. While it doesn’t claim to be the bible of cook books, it is comprehensive and has lots of interesting recipes, like this one. I like it because Amanda Hesser, who compiled this collection, also includes serving suggestions. Since the guys wanted a carb blowout for dinner, that is, Chinese barbecued spare ribs, I decided to try Hesser’s suggestion and serve them with sesame noodles. This is an interesting noodle dish, similar to Japanese somen because it’s served cold.  It’s been hours since dinner and the apartment is still redolent of hoisin sauce and sesame oil!

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles (The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
I could not find lo mein noodles uptown so I made do with linguine. I will try spaghettini next time. Linguine were too starchy and tended to be gummy when cold. I cooked them for six minutes, one minute over the recommended time. I needed to cook them less, then chill them right away in ice water to stop the cooking. I ran the coldest water from the tap over them. Another thing, if you don’t have rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar will do. And I made the cucumber and peanuts optional. Read my serving suggestion below.

1 pound lo mein egg noodles (1/8 inch thick) frozen or fresh (can substitute linguine but try spaghettini)
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, plus more for a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar (can use balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons sesame paste or tahini
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste or to taste (available in the supermarket Asian section)
1/2 cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 2 inch long sticks, optional
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should be al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and toss with a “splash of sesame oil.”

Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile-garlic paste in a medium bowl.

Pour half the sauce over the noodles and toss. Add more sauce as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cucumber and peanuts. I recommend serving it with chopped scallion, cilantro, and the skinniest slivers of ginger–the trinity of Chinese cooking. Like revenge, this is a dish best eaten cold.

Cook’s Note: Don’t be shy! Use all the sauce. Believe me, it’s worth it.

khao soi or chiang mai chicken curry noodles, low fat and low carb version

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This dish is the signature specialty of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. I made a few low fat/low carb adjustments to it like swapping chicken breasts for thighs and using whole wheat linguine instead of Chinese egg noodles. However, the key to this dish is the curry-flavored soup. For more authentic flavor, I used dried red Thai chilies although guajillo is recommended in the original recipe. I also used full-fat coconut milk because it is better tasting, but using “lite” coconut milk will surely lower the fat, carbs, and calories in this dish even more. The flavors in this soup should be predominantly coconut-spicy, but smooth; slightly salty, sour, and barely sweet, is my preference. Fish sauce will give it a hint of anchovy. Aroy.

Chicken Khao Soi (adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2013)

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

Khao Soi Paste
4 -6 dried chilies, stemmed, halved, and seeded, if less heat is desired (or Mexican guajillo chilies)
2 medium shallots, halved
8 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for toppings)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder

Soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (or whole wheat linguine)
3 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce (such as Tiparos)
1 tablespoon (packed) palm sugar or light brown sugar, optional

Suggested Toppings
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, crispy fried Chinese wonton noodles, and lime wedges

Preparation:

Make khao soi paste. Place chilies in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let stand 30 minutes until softened. Remove the chilies and reserve the soaking liquid. If desired, remove the seeds to make the dish less spicy.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water to cook the noodles.

In a blender, purée the chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons soaking liquid in a food processor. Add more by tablespoonfuls, if needed, blending until smooth. You can add up to 6 tablespoons total.

Make the soup. Heat oil in a large heavy dutch pot over medium heat. Add the khao soi paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4-6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; slice meat into 1/4 inch thick chunks.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Return chicken to the pot, adding 3 tablespoons fish sauce, and sugar (if using) to soup. Taste and season with more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Spoon soup and noodles into bowls and serve with toppings.