My “foster” parents, Ajarn Prasert and Ajarn Ying, introduced me and my project mates to khao soi—or “cut rice” in Thai, a Chiang Mai specialty with Burmese and Chinese Muslim influences—during my summer semester in Chiang Rai in June 2004. Ajarn Ying, who ran a small-time restaurant in Mae Sai, less than 300 metres from the very northern edge of Thailand, would often whip up her signature khao soi for us, the four girls, when we dropped by for daily meals during our one-month fieldwork stay in the frontier town. I was still new to Thailand then and couldn’t tell the nuances in Thai cuisine, but her khao soi was the most marvellous dish tasted during my time there—tangy noodles simmered in a thick red curry-and-coconut broth, with sliced shallots, lime and pickled mustard on the side.
I haven’t been able to taste such memorable khao soi since.
May, a northern Thai native friend of mine, recently “discovered” fresh khao soi paste packs in Chiang Mai’s Kat Luang (better known as Warorot market in western media). These packs could be stored in the fridge for a couple of months, making them the ideal food souvenirs—particularly useful for soothing food yearnings for those based overseas. Prior to our leaving Bangkok, she specially bought three khao soi packages and a pack of flat, yellow egg noodles for us to try our hand at recreating the dish back in Singapore.
And try we did, more than a month after our return to Singapore. The packs were lying in the fridge for so long until one day, to my horror, Mamy mistook the paste for sambal chilli and used one pack to spice an okra dish. So to prevent any more case of mistaken identities in the kitchen, Mr. P and I finally cooked chicken khao soi last weekend. It definitely wasn’t the most authentic or delicious khao soi, but at least we satiated our cravings for the time being. Check out khao soi recipes here, here and here (in Thai).
Now that we really have exhausted our khao soi paste packs at home, it’s time to head to Golden Mile Complex to replenish our stocks…