Chiang Mai Noodle soup

This is a dreamy Thai noodle-soup dish, famous in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The addition of turmeric gives it rich colour.  Delicious with chicken but also great with shrimp, or a mixture of both. Noodles can also be switched up. Fresh egg noodles found in Asian supermarkets are the classic addition, but dried thick rice noodles are perfect, too. 

Serves 6

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 sweet red pepper, diced

1/2 cup coconut cream 

3 tbsp red curry paste

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 3/4 cup coconut milk

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

15 basil leaves

2-3 chopped bird’s eye chillies

3 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp sambal oelek chili sauce 

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced or shrimp, peeled and deveined 

3 tbsp lime juice

1/2 lb Chinese egg noodles or rice noodles

1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

4 green onions, chopped 

In a large pot on medium-high, heat the oil.  Add garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds or until golden. Add diced red pepper and stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until tender.  

Open the can of coconut milk and gently spoon off half a cup of the thick cream on top into the pot.  Warm the coconut cream at medium-high, whisk in curry paste and turmeric and continue to whisk until coconut cream starts to separate slightly and glisten with oil.  Add remaining contents of coconut milk can, chicken stock, basil, chillies, fish sauce,  sambal oelek, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer.  Add chicken or shrimp and cook gently until it is just cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, boil egg or rice noodles for 2 minutes or until just tender.  Drain.  

Place one-sixth of the noodles in each bowl and ladle over with hot soup.  Garnish with coriander and green onions.

 

Pesto Perfect

It’s August and I’m dipping fingers and bread into a bowl of freshly made pesto. The colour shimmers emerald green and licorice notes of sweet basil jump into my nostrils, the garlic-tinged oil making a smooth slide down my throat.

IMG_4022I want to eat it by the spoonful, but instead rush to store it before the colour and flavor are ruined by oxidization. So off it goes, portioned into small, glass jars covered by a thick layer of oil, lidded and refrigerated. I will slather it on warm toast, piling on sliced garden tomatoes and crisp bacon to make daily BLTs to be consumed with lascivious abandon. A teaspoon or two will find its way into homemade salad dressings, more will be drizzled over grilled shrimp and sometimes I’ll float a coin-sized island of it in the middle of a creamy cold cucumber soup or smear it on crostini with grilled veggies.

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