Kaukswe (Burmese Curry Noodles)
Start the day before, if you wish, browning the chickpea flour and frying the noodles. Then mix the paste with the meat and set aside to marinate overnight. The next day, cook the meat and make the sauce in the early afternoon. At dinner time, reheat the meat and sauce, boil up the rest of the noodles, set your garnishes in small bowls on the table, and you’re good to go.
- 1 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 pound dried Chinese egg noodles or 1 1/2 pounds fresh egg noodles
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 3 tablespoons turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons ginger powder
- 1 tablespoon finely ground ancho or other moderately hot red chili
- 2 pounds lean pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large shallots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro roots or thick lower cilantro stems, plus leaves from 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
- 1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk
- Garnishes to be passed and added at the table: lime wedges, red pepper flakes, bean sprouts, thinly sliced scallions, more chopped cilantro, coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
Adapted from wsj.com
In an 8- or 9-inch skillet over medium-high heat, bring 1-inch oil to 350 degrees, using a hot-oil thermometer to monitor temperature. (Alternatively, test oil by dropping in an egg noodle. If noodle sizzles and quickly turns golden, oil is ready.) While oil heats, take 1 cup of noodles and break or cut them into 3-inch lengths. Add broken noodles to oil and cook, turning but taking care not to break them further, until crisp, 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fried noodles to a paper-towel-lined plate. Let oil cool and reserve for later use.
In a separate, dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast chickpea flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until beginning to turn golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Off heat, continue to stir until flour cools, about 5 minutes. Transfer flour to a small bowl.
In another small bowl, combine turmeric, ginger powder, ground chili and ⅓ cup cooled frying oil, stirring to form a thick paste. Place pork in a larger bowl, then add paste, turning meat to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Once pork has marinated, set a large skillet over medium heat. Add pork with marinade and season with salt and pepper. Sear meat, turning, until browned all over, about 20 minutes. As cubes brown, remove from skillet and set aside on a plate.
Use a food processor to finely chop shallots, onions, garlic, cilantro roots, grated fresh ginger and kaffir lime leaves.
In a small pot over low heat, bring stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons reserved frying oil in a deep skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chopped vegetables and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
Stir pork into vegetables, then stir in 2 cups simmering stock. Bring liquid back to a simmer and cook very slowly, lowering heat as necessary, until meat is tender and liquid reduces and thickens, 2 hours. Stir in fish sauce and return to a simmer.
In a small bowl, combine half of toasted chickpea flour with ¼ cup cooking liquid from pork, stirring until smooth. Add a few more spoonfuls of cooking liquid, beating to form a thick, smooth paste. Stir paste, then coconut milk, into simmering curry. If curry seems too liquid, extract a few tablespoons and mix with a spoonful of remaining toasted chickpea flour, then stir back in and let cook, uncovered, 10 minutes more. If too thick, add another spoonful of stock.
Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook remaining noodles until tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
To serve, stir chopped cilantro into curry. Spoon a little sauce into bottom of each bowl or plate, then top with boiled noodles and a generous portion of curry. Garnish with fried noodles. Let guests add additional garnishes at table.