While Christopher and I were in Nyaung Shwe during our visit to Burma in 2004 (has it been that long?), we came across a small restaurant which served the best Shan noodles. I have eaten many Shan noodles before but what stood out at this particular place was the chicken soup and simplicity of the dish.
Since that day I have been promising myself that one day I shall return to Nyaung Shwe to learn the recipe from the owner, who was more than happy to share. That day has not materialised yet and as it has been a long time since my last Shan noodles, I set out this weekend to recreate what I ate almost 5 years ago.
It is a simple dish: flat rice noodle, chicken soup, chicken, tomatoes, peanuts, young vine of mangetout and sour mustard greens (mon hin chin). Similar to mohingar (traditional fish noodle soup) there are many versions of Shan noodles, sometimes simply called khaut sew or khao soi (noodles in Burmese). Though be aware khao soi in Thailand is a version of the Burmese coconut noodle soup.
With a simple dish such as this, the key is to start with good quality ingredients. I am using an organic chicken which I strip off the breast meat to use in the sauce, legs and wings I keep for another recipe and the remaining carcass for the soup.
for the soup
2 litres water
2 garlic cloves
10 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 garlic clove, diced finely
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
180g skinless chicken, minced coarsely
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
large handful baby spinach
375g flat rice noodles, cooked
20g roasted peanuts, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sour mustard greens, chopped
Make the soup first. Place the chicken carcass, garlic, peppercorns and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Allow to simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Skim off any scum and strain through a metal sieve to remove the bones leaving a clear soup. Season with salt.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the chicken sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, stir through until fragrant but without catching colour. In go the chilli powder, diced chicken, tomatoes and soy sauce. Simmer gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and any liquid has disappeared.
Prepare the garnishes and cook the noodles following the packet instructions. Rinse the noodles in plenty of cold water to keep them from clumping together once cooked.
Just before serving throw in the baby spinach into the soup to wilt them. To serve, put the noodles in a bowl, a generous spoonful of chicken, ladle over with soup including the spinach. Sprinkle with garnishes and serve the sour mustard greens separately in a small bowl.
Cooking time: 1-2 hours
I would be interested to hear your version of Shan noodles.