Marion: Recipe and stories from a hungry cook, 222pp.
by Marion Grasby
Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney, 2011
Cooking on page 32
Marion was a contestant in the second season of Australia’s Master Chef competition. The audience loved her engaging smile, cheerful personality and creative dishes. No doubt about it—she was a favourite to win. Until the peanut sauce showdown!
I can’t remember exactly what happened but Marion, who has an Asian background and has been making peanut sauce for most of her life, bombed out in a cook-off with another contestant. She over-engineered her sauce until it was a disaster, and she was eliminated. Australia was gobsmacked. We really did adore this chirpy and talented young woman from Darwin, whose mum is from Thailand and dad from Australia.
But Marion has survived in her own way and gone on to make a name for herself in the world of food. She writes for food magazines, has a line of Asian food products and now this cookbook.
Today we’re cooking on page 32. Marion says she discovered this recipe when she was doing language study in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
Khao soi (Chiang Mai noodle soup)
200 g fresh thin egg noodles
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
300 g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced
150 g deep-fried egg noodles, gently broken into large chunks
3 red shallots, thinly sliced
100 g pickled mustard greens, drained, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup roughly chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
Cook the fresh noodles in boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain, refresh under cold running water. Drain again well and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste, turmeric and cardamom and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant and steaming. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk and simmer for 2 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Add the remaining coconut milk, the fish sauce, sugar and 2 cups of water. Toss in the chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Arrange small handfuls of the cooked fresh noodles in serving bowls and ladle over the soup. Place a chunk of the deep-fried noodles on top. Scatter over a couple of slices of shallots, a pinch of sliced mustard greens and a small handful of coriander leaves. Finish with a squeeze of lime.
How it played out
We eat a lot of Asian food, so I know where to find ingredients such as pickled mustard greens and fresh and deep-fried egg noodles. I just cruise around an Asian market looking for likely items. If I don’t see what I want, I ask. Sometimes I even show recipe pictures.
This book includes a recipe for homemade Thai red curry paste, but I finished off a jar of bottled stuff I already had on hand.
A great soup that was so quick to throw together for lunch, especially because I didn’t have to make the red curry paste from scratch.
This dish is common in both northern Thailand and northern Laos. Apparently it has been influenced by my favourite Burmese dish, ohn-no-kauk-swe (there are lots of different spellings for that). A few years ago, I posted a recipe for ohn-no-kauk-swe here.
By the way, it’s been a long time since I cooked with pickled mustard greens, which are basically pickled cabbage. They add a nice tart flavour, but you could use pickled cabbage instead (but not sauerkraut).
Let me know if you want to make this and have trouble finding other ingredients. I might be able to suggest substitutions based on where you are in the world.
P.S. Skippersy made this recipe (see his comments below) and sent a picture of his results. His version of the recipe is posted here. Thanks Sy.