Nan Gyi Thoke
Once, while working on this book, we found ourselves at the end of a long day at a new mall development in Yangon. While malls are commonplace in the rest of Asia, this one was a first for Yangon - though it’s assuredly a sign of what’s to come. We browsed the grocery store on the ground level and then headed upstairs to encounter a lackluster food court with watery Chinese noodles. The only thing worth eating was at the next stall over, a tea shop selling nan gyi thoke. Consisting of chewy, round rice noodles lightly coated in a savory chicken curry topped with hard-boiled eggs, it was a perfectly balanced plate of noodles.
Also called Mandalay mouti thoke - a tribute to its origin city - and nan pia thoke when made with flat rice noodles, nan gyi thoke is a classic Burmese noodle preparation that leverages the richness of Coconut Chicken Curry (page 26.) Make it when you have leftover curry, or make a batch of curry specifically for these noodles.
Yield: Serves 4 as part of a larger meal
3 ¼ cups Coconut Chicken Curry (page 26)
Salt or fish sauce
¼ cup tasted chickpea flour (see page 215)
½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
12 ounces extra-large or large round rice noodles
1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges
1 cup sliced red onion or shallot, soaked in water and drained
½ cup minced cilantro
4 hard-boiled eggs (see sidebar, page 21), sliced into wedges
½ cup crispy Fried Onions (page 208
In a small pot, bring the curry to a gentle simmer. If some of the pieces of the chicken are longer than an inch, chop them up and return them to the pot. Taste the curry. It should be rich and savory. Add a teaspoon of salt or a tablespoon of fish sauce if the flavors need more oomph - the noodles will be bland, so all of the seasoning has to come from the sauce. Mix in the chickpea flour and dried chile flakes. If the curry looks broken (with oil rising to the surface), don’t worry: just give the pot a good stir.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring often with chopsticks, 9 to 12 minutes (depending on how thick the noodles are) or until tender but still chewy. If the pot starts to boil over, add a cup of cold water to temper the heat of the water. Drain in a colander and rinse well under cool running water until room temperature. Give the colander a shake to remove excess water.
Transfer the noodles to a large mixing bowl. Add the curry and combine with tongs. Taste, adding a pinch of salt or a splash of fish sauce and a couple of squeezes of lime. Stir in the red onion and cilantro.
Divide the noodles among serving bowls or plates and top each with hard-boiled egg wedges and some fried onions.
Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia Hardcover – March 28, 2017