Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Curry Noodles)

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Chiang Mai has two seasons: smoky and not smoky. Each spring, farmers create manmade fires to get rid of material from old rice stalks to clear the way for the next season’s planting. The air becomes polluted in addition to the stiflingly hot weather. It’s not the most popular time of year to visit Chiang Mai.

But I am undeterred. When I visited Thailand last year, I had to include Chiang Mai in my travels. Why? I wanted to eat khao soi. Khao soi is a soupy, curry-laden bowl of Burmese-influenced goodness, a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, shallots, lime, ground chilis, coconut milk, and usually meat. I researched the best khao soi restaurant in Chiang Mai and Nishan and I trekked through the smoggy heat until we found it: a nondescript outdoor restaurant with a corrugated sheet metal roof and plastic stools, identifiable only by the huge crowd of happy eaters.

The khao soi was worth the walk and when I’ve since learned to recreate these curry noodles at home, adapting my version from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. If you want to make this dish a bit healthier and easier to cook, omit the fried noodles. The red curry paste is a shortcut to making your own curry paste by hand, but the results are still delicious.

Chiang Mai curry noodles (khao soi)

Ingredients:

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon cooking oil plus more for deep-frying noodles
3 cups canned coconut milk, with 1/2 cup of the thickest milk set aside
1/2 pound sirloin beef, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 pound Chinese egg noodles
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 shallots, chopped

1. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, turmeric, and a pinch salt until well blended. Stir in the curry paste and set aside.

2. Place a large heavy pot over high heat. Add the one tablespoon oil and when it is hot, add the curry paste mixture. Stir-fry for one minute, then add the reserved 1/2 cup thick coconut milk and lower the heat to medium-high. Add the meat and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the meat has slightly browned. Add the remaining coconut milk, the water, fish sauce, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. The soup can be prepared ahead of time and reheated just before serving.

3. Make the optional crispy noodles: line a plate with paper towels. Place a large wok over high heat and add about 1 cup oil, or 1/2 inch oil. When the oil is hot, drop in a strand of uncooked noodles to test the temperature. It should sizzle slightly as it falls to the bottom, then immediately puff and rise to the surface; adjust the heat slightly, if necessary. Toss a handful (about 1 cup) of noodles into the oil and watch as they crisp and puff up. Use a spatula or long tongs to turn them over and expose all of them to the hot oil. They will crisp up quickly, in less than 1 minute. Lift the crisped noodles out of the oil and place on the paper towel-lined plate. Give the oil a moment to come back to temperature, and then repeat with a second handful of noodles.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining noodles, bring back to a boil, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Drain well and rinse in fresh water to get rid of extra starch and stop the cooking process.

5. Divide the cooked noodles among four bowls. Ladle over the broth and meat. Top with crispy noodles and a pinch each of shallots and scallions.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

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“Mariam, when are you making linguine with white clam sauce again?” – My sister, every month since forever, basically.

Growing up, this was one one of my sister’s favorite dishes that I’d cook, but let’s be honest. It’s one of my favorites too. What’s better than pasta? Pasta enveloped in a garlicy seafood sauce. Sure, the dish has 1990s vibes, but good taste is timeless. This dish is easy and it’s a crowd pleaser. The next time my sister asks, I’m making a huge pot of this — for us both.

Linguine with white clam sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup bottled clam juice
1 pound linguine
3 pounds small clams, scrubbed well
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and clam juice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

2. Cook pasta in another large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander.

3. While pasta is cooking, stir clams into sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until clams open wide, 4 to 6 minutes. (Discard any clams that have not opened after 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

4. Add pasta to clams along with parsley and salt to taste, then toss with sauce until combined well.

Andouille and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

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Okay, so this photo isn’t the prettiest. The lighting is awful. But I’d be remiss to not share this recipe with you. Herein lies one of my favorite dishes of all time. This mac and cheese is decadent, complex, and will have you going for seconds thirds in no time. I’ve adapted it from a Food and Wine magazine recipe: I removed the cilantro and nutmeg from the original, upped the other herbs, and reduced the amount of fat here. But still: it’s cheesy, smoky, meaty, garlicy and satisfies all your carb-laden dreams. It’s time consuming and it’s unhealthy. But. It. Is. DELICIOUS.

You have been warned.

Andouille mac and cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mild white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Salt
Black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 ounces andouille sausage, diced (or raw andouille sausage, crumbled)
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 pound medium pasta shells
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer. Keep warm over very low heat.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme, and cayenne and whisk until the roux is lightly browned, 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and cream until the sauce is smooth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, whisking, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mild cheddar and 1/2 cup of the sharp cheddar. Season the cheese sauce with salt and black pepper.


3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the panko and toast over moderately high heat, stirring, 
until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet.

4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the sausage, bell pepper and onion and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chopped parsley.

5. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the andouille mixture. Season with hot sauce and salt and black pepper.

6. Spoon the pasta into a large oven-proof ceramic baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of sharp cheddar and the toasted panko. Bake until piping hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve warm.

Ale, Cheese, and Potato Pie

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Please keep scrolling if you’re following a gluten-free, dairy-free, or low-fat diet. This dish is not healthy. In fact, it’s probably the least healthy dish that I’ve ever cooked.

But it tastes oh-so-good. Gooey cheese and savory potatoes are encased in buttery puff pastry for a cold weather treat. Heavy cream binds it all together. This dish isn’t for the faint of heart. Speaking of your heart, maybe exercise for a week or two to burn the calories off of this one. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Ale, cheese, and potato pie

Ingredients:

Two 14-ounce packages butter puff pastry, chilled
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
salt
pepper
3/4 cup ale beer
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 egg yolks, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each puff pastry sheet to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Stack the pastry sheets 
on a sheet with a piece of parchment paper between them. Refrigerate until chilled.

2. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with 1 inch of water. Add salt, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Pat the potatoes dry, then peel and quarter. Gently crush with a wooden spoon.

3. In a medium saucepan, boil the ale over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and 
cook, whisking, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and cook over medium heat, stirring 
constantly, until the sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, Worcestershire and mustard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and let cool. Carefully stir in the crushed potatoes and season again with salt and pepper.


4. Arrange 1 chilled puff pastry sheet on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with some of the beaten egg. Spread the potato filling on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Top with the second sheet of puff pastry and press the edges together to seal; crimp decoratively. Brush the top of the pie with more of the beaten egg and cut a few slits for venting. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, rotate the baking sheet and bake until the pastry is browned and the filling is bubbling, 25 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dry Fried Glass Noodles with Chiles

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I’ve been on a spicy kick lately. Does it have chiles? Copious amounts of chiles? Yes? Will my tongue tingle and will my mouth go numb? Sign me up then.

This Sichuan-influenced dish of glass noodles quickly dry-fried with spices and ground meat is fiery thanks to a healthy dose of chili bean paste and dried chiles. It’s a flexible recipe, so feel free to leave out the meat for a vegetarian version or add vegetables galore to up the health factor. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that this dish is spicy. Pass the water, please.

Dry fried glass noodles

Ingredients:

6 ounces dried bean thread noodles
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 ounces ground turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon chili bean paste (tobanjan)
5 dried red chiles
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Pour enough warm water over the noodles in a large bowl to cover completely. Soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and cut the noodles in half.

2. Combine the rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well. Add the meat and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add the oil, then add the garlic, ginger, chili bean paste, and dried chiles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir-fry until it is lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon of soy sauce, noodles and cook, stir-frying until well-mixed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onion and sesame oil. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.