Khao Piak Sen (Lao Chicken-Noodle Soup) Recipe

recipe image

Why It Works

  • The usage of the oil from the fried garlic and shallots to have confidence the broth captures every ounce of fashion.
  • Optionally charring one of the most onion and ginger provides depth and complexity to the broth.
  • The usage of a stand mixer to starting up the noodles protects your palms from the warmth of the boiling water.
  • Cooking the noodles in the broth provides starch to the broth itself, giving it its signature viscosity.

The principle time I encountered khao piak sen, or Lao chicken noodle soup, modified into as soon as through a TV video show. Chef James Syhabout of Oakland’s Commis and San Francisco’s Hawker Fare modified into as soon as face-deep in a bowl as he urged Anthony Bourdain about his relationship with Laos, a rustic he and his household fled in the Seventies. There modified into as soon as something so raw about the scene—Chef Syhabout slurping the soup nearly hurriedly, as if he’s chasing a memory; him tipping assist the bowl for its closing remnants; sitting quietly for a second after he’s accomplished—I without prolong made up our minds I wanted a bowl for myself.

After a frenzy of Googling, I managed to observe down ravishing one restaurant offering khao piak sen in New York Metropolis: Hug Esan, a northeastern Thai (Isan) restaurant in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens. The bowl there, while entirely palatable, left me with even more questions than sooner than. Why modified into as soon as the broth created from pork, no longer chicken? Are these the same noodles as the Vietnamese bánh canh (a equally thick, tender noodle created from tapioca and rice flour)? Why is a Lao dish being served at a Thai restaurant? And why am I rising so moving about this soup?

A Substitute Soup With a Signature Texture

With so many points to solve, I place out queries for Lao consultants and modified into as soon as serendipitously launched to Chef Seng Luangrath of Washington D.C.’s Thip Khao. Worship Chef Syhabout, she additionally fled Laos as a baby during the Vietnam Wrestle (which raged in Laos as a “secret war”), finding refuge first in Thailand sooner than resettling in the U.S.

Now an brisk champion of the Lao Food Motion, Chef Luangrath modified into as soon as more than moving to coach me about without a doubt one of her supreme-promoting soups. She urged me that khao piak sen translates as “wet rice noodle” and is a chicken (and usually pork) broth–based entirely entirely soup filled with shredded poached chicken, translucent rice-and-tapioca noodles, and topped with a bounty of recent herbs.

Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

Inner just a few minutes of our name, Chef Luangrath sighed with broad tenderness and mentioned, “It’s a noodle I remember in actuality properly; a noodle I ravishing indulge in so worthy.” At its core, it’s a soup about personalization. “The accurate portion is that everybody makes it how they worship to eat it,” Chef Luangrath urged me. “My broth is a straightforward one made with ginger, others worship it with lemongrass, or with galangal and [makrut] lime leaves. Some char the greens [like onion and garlic] or add cilantro stems. Some have confidence it with pork neck bones as a replacement of the total chicken.”

Whereas many aspects of the soup are starting up to interpretation, its hallmark texture—intellectual and somewhat viscous—stays intact across many versions. This comes from the act of cooking raw noodles without prolong in the broth as soon as the chicken has been eliminated, letting the starch add body to the broth.

“Some folks might perhaps presumably even place extra starch in, while others will rinse out the flour because they want a clearer broth,” Chef Luangrath explained. However the final bowl arrives, it is continuously served with recent greens and condiments, a signature of Lao cuisine. The classics are scallion, cilantro, chile oil, fried garlic, fried shallot, lime wedges, shadowy pepper, and white pepper, but there’s quite loads of room for improvisation with recent bean sprouts or curly twines of morning glory.

Khao Piak Sen in Lao Culture

Rows and rows of khao piak sen vendors are a frequent stare in the Lao capital city of Vientiane, something Chef Luangrath remembers rather fondly. “My neighbors would have confidence this soup early in the morning and voice it to the market. Every mall would indulge in a khao piak sen stall.” Past a breakfast licensed, it’s additionally a favored slack-evening (“after events”) snack, as properly as a frequent merchandise at main gatherings (it’s genuine for mourners to eat a bowl collectively at the tip of funerals, sooner than the body is cremated).

Khao piak sen is a dish that showcases the multiculturalism inherent in Lao history and its folks. Ethnic Lao worth their ancestors to a community of folks talking a genuine “Tai” language who as soon as lived in Southern China. They moved southward in a series of migrations—differing historical theories situation this timeframe anyplace from the eighth to the 12th century CE—and settled in the space that is favorite day Laos, northeastern Thailand (Isan space), and adjacent facets of Vietnam.

This makes a form of sense given the soup’s odd commonalities with aspects of Chinese cuisine: after she realized I’m Chinese-American, Chef Luangrath excitedly urged me there’s khao piak sen vendors that might perhaps succor a steaming bowl with youtiao, an extended fried doughnut stick that’s genuine to eat alongside congee or soy milk for breakfast in obvious facets of China.

Lao Cuisine and “Thaification”

As a meals that encourages personalization, khao piak sen has fittingly continued as a centerpiece of the Lao diaspora. “Many Thai drinking locations [in D.C. and beyond] will sneak khao piak sen on the menu, or on the secret menu—that’s how I do know [the restaurant is] potentially Lao-owned,” Chef Luangrath tells me with a little chortle. The connection between Thai and Lao folks is complex, in portion attributable to the blurring of ethnic and country traces, as those born or raised in northeastern Thailand but who’re ethnically Lao indulge in skilled sweeping erasure of Laotian affect—including the exhaust of “Lao” as a descriptor, changing it with “northeastern Thai” or “Isan”—at the palms of the Thai government.

After a defense pressure coup in the Thirties, the recent Thai leaders led a nationalist “Thaification” advertising and marketing campaign aimed to “unify” the country and prioritize Thai folks, custom, and language over the peoples, cultures, and languages of Lao, Chinese, and Malay populations. (This modified into as soon as additionally the time pad thai modified into as soon as launched as the de facto nationwide dish.)

Due to this, some of Laos’ greatest culinary contributions, equivalent to larb (usually written as laap), som tam, and the ample pockets of sticky rice served alongside a meal, indulge in been launched in the US as purely regional Thai cuisine. Lao cooks offering khao piak sen in these form of drinking locations, then, might perhaps presumably well also be seen as a restful invent of asserting their identities—as Chef Syhabout place it, now “it’s a matter of re-instructing.”

Making the Broth and Contemporary Rice Noodles

Attempting to distill khao piak sen the total manner down to ravishing one model, when its very nature is to be vivid and diverse, modified into as soon as a pickle in and of itself. Chef Luangrath generously despatched me both her broth and noodle recipes, from which I constructed a foundational fashion profile. Just a few chickens later, I learned myself craving more heft in the broth, and performed spherical with charring some portion of the onion and ginger till I landed at what tasted worship the candy situation to me. This extra body then wished some brighter notes for steadiness, which recent cilantro stems and makrut lime leaves did perfectly.

Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

Noodle-intellectual, I struggled. The most genuine ratio for these recent noodles is 1:1 rice flour to tapioca flour, but for people who take a chewier noodle, many recipes online imply a 1:1.5 or a 1:1.3 rice-to-tapioca ratio. “Some additionally place salt or MSG in the snide,” Chef Luangrath urged me. She every so often provides some baking soda to provide the noodles a springier chunk, which follows in the same line of reasoning as making a simplified ramen by adding an alkaline ingredient (show this does give the noodles a somewhat yellow color).

Whereas the ratios indulge in been difficult adequate to navigate, the predominant pickle I met modified into as soon as the accurate technique for making the noodles. I aged my staunch stand mixer to mix the flours and the recent water—the predominant term here being “scorching,” as in boiling, to set off the starch—but as soon as mixed collectively they modified into impossibly sticky to work with.

Naturally, the films of Chef Luangrath making noodles appeared easy when put next (she usually does the total sequence by hand in a broad steel bowl, undeterred by the water temperature). At closing I landed on a capacity that yielded wonderful results, even with my rather frail wrists and the truth that my palms can’t withstand 212°F (100°C) water, adding more of every flour during the kneading step to provide the final dough a pliable, but no longer overly wet, consistency. As for the debate over ratios, I loved the softness of the rice flour and learned any procedure with more than the 1:1 ratio rather exhausting to chew—but that’s entirely as a lot as the cook dinner.

A Dish Closely Tied to Lao Identification

As Chef Luangrath and I completed up our name, she urged me somewhat story about how Lao meals is at closing, rightfully, starting up to search out its possess space in the American meals vernacular. “I aged to continuously need to show [khao piak sen] as same to udon, or bánh canh, but now folks are finding out what it is, coming assist and soliciting for it.” I’d also uncover she modified into as soon as beaming on her aspect of the phone, and that appeared fitting. Past offering more than somewhat bit of comfort in a bowl, khao piak sen is an intimate dish that reminds us how intently meals is tied to identity. Small shock, then, that Chef Luangrath would get some reaffirmation when others survey how palatable it might perhaps well perhaps presumably well also be.

Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

October 2019

For the Fried Garlic and Shallot:

  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil

  • 24 cloves garlic (120g), sliced thinly crosswise, preferably with a mandoline

  • 3 medium shallots (150g), sliced thinly crosswise into rounds, preferably with a mandoline

For the Broth and Chicken:

  • 1 medium yellow onion (10 oz.; 280g), peeled and quartered throughout the root discontinuance

  • 3 broad knobs ginger (3 oz.; 90g), peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4 trek thick rounds

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) garlic and shallot oil, from above

  • 1 stalk lemongrass (2 3/4 oz.; 80g), outer layer discarded then roughly chopped

  • 6 medium cloves garlic (1 ounce; 30g), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

  • 5 makrut lime leaves

  • Stems from 1 bunch cilantro (2 oz.; 60g), chopped (look show)

  • One 3- to 4pound (1.3 to 1.8kg) entire chicken, blotted dry

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (3/4 ounce; 25g), plus more as wished

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (1 ounce; 30g)

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (1 ounce; 30g)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the Noodles:

  • 7 oz. (200g) plus 3/4 ounce (20g) white rice flour, divided (look show)

  • 7 oz. (200g) plus 3/4 oz. (20g) tapioca flour, divided

  • 1 3/4 cups (415ml) boiling water

To Carry out and Attend the Soup:

  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias

  • 2 recent chicken’s notice chiles, stemmed and minced

  • 5 sprigs morning glory, pulled through a morning glory shredder (optionally accessible; look show)

  • Lime wedges

  • Fried garlic, from above

  • Fried shallots, from above

  • Picked cilantro leaves and tender stems

  1. For the Fried Garlic and Shallot: Line a plate with paper towels and location a stunning-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. In a medium frying pan, warmth oil over medium warmth till shimmering. Add garlic and fry, swirling and stirring usually, till golden brown all over, roughly 4 minutes. Pour garlic and oil into ready strainer and enable to empty. Switch garlic to the ready paper towels, spreading it out in a honest layer, and enable to empty extra.

  2. Return oil to pan, then location stunning-mesh strainer over the same heatproof bowl. Line a second plate with natty paper towels.

  3. Add shallots to pan and cook dinner over excessive warmth, stirring usually, till shallots starting up to bubble, about 1 minute. Proceed cooking, stirring constantly as the shallots fry to ascertain even cooking, till shallots turn faded golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Working hastily, pour contents of saucepan into strainer location over bowl. (Shallots will proceed cooking for a transient duration after draining, so procedure no longer enable them to get too darkish.) Reserve garlic-shallot oil.

  4. For the Broth and Chicken: If desired, grill or sear (in a forged iron pan without oil) two of the onion quarters and two-thirds of the sliced ginger till properly charred, about 2 minutes per in the reduction of aspect (this can add depth and complexity to the broth, but is optionally accessible).

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  5. Roughly gash the total onion and ginger, whether or no longer charred or no longer.

  6. In a broad 8-quart Dutch oven or soup pot, warmth garlic-shallot oil over medium warmth till shimmering. Add chopped onion and ginger, lemongrass, sliced garlic, lime leaves, and cilantro stems. Season lightly with salt, then cook dinner, stirring, till onions are softened, about 7 minutes.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  7. Add chicken to pot and high with a minimum of 5 quarts (5L) frigid water, or adequate to quilt. Add the 2 tablespoons kosher salt alongside with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Raise to a simmer, then lower warmth to preserve a light-weight simmer. Cook dinner, covered, for 2 hours, lifting lid every so often to waft the bottom of broth of any foam or scum that accumulates.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  8. In moderation buy chicken from the pot and transfer to a piece floor (it might perhaps well perhaps presumably well also simply collapse after this long cooking; simply fish out the total facets and bones). When frigid adequate to take care of, pull meat from bones and shred alongside with your palms or a fork. Discard bones and skin. Reserve chicken meat.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  9. In the meantime, bring broth to a rolling boil and cook dinner, uncovered, for Half-hour. Stress broth, discarding solids, then return to cleaned pot. Season with salt.

  10. For the Noodles: Whereas the broth simmers, have confidence the noodles. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 7 oz. rice flour and 7 oz. tapioca flour. Flip mixer to medium-low tempo and drizzle in boiling water. Proceed to mix, pausing every so often to jam down the perimeters with a flexible spatula, till a moist dough ball forms, about 3 minutes.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  11. Journey collectively final rice and tapioca flours, then sprinkle on a piece floor. Flip dough ball out onto floured work floor. Knead dough by hand till the total flour on the board has been entirely integrated into a supple dough, about 4 minutes.

  12. Roll dough into a thick log and divide into 8 equal portions. Roll every portion into a little ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  13. Working one dough disc at a time, and holding the leisure covered with a kitchen towel to quit drying, roll the exhaust of a rolling pin till roughly 1/8 trek thick and about 6 inches long.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  14. The usage of a animated knife, cut into noodles roughly 1/4 trek wide. Switch to a rimmed baking sheet, dusting and tossing gently with rice flour to quit sticking. Interact noodles covered with a moist towel in divulge that they don’t dry out. Repeat with final dough.

  15. To Carry out and Attend the Soup: Add noodles to boiling completed broth and cook dinner, stirring very minimally to quit them from breaking (they’re brittle till they cook dinner through), till noodles streak to the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes.

    Excessive Eats / Liz Clayman

  16. Switch noodles to soup bowls. Add shredded chicken to every bowl. Ladle broth into bowls. Attend scorching, allowing diners to garnish their soup with scallions, chiles, morning glory (if the exhaust of), lime, fried garlic, fried shallots, and cilantro leaves and tender stems.


If yow will uncover it, you would additionally exhaust cilantro roots. An passe chicken, if yow will uncover it, works properly in this recipe; otherwise, any entire chicken will be correct.

This recipe uses finely milled white rice flour, usually learned in Asian grocery stores. These are a form of than those on hand at most chain grocery stores, equivalent to Bob’s Crimson Mill, since the finer rice flour is plan more absorbent. When you is also the exhaust of a ticket equivalent to Bob’s Crimson Mill, add an extra 30g of rice flour to the genuine mixture and amplify the quantity of both rice flour and tapioca flour for the second step of the kneading direction of to 50g.

Morning glory, usually is named water spinach, might perhaps presumably well also be learned at Asian markets.

Special Instruments

Stand mixer, scale, stunning-mesh strainer, 8-quart Dutch oven or soup pot, morning glory shredder (optionally accessible)

Receive-Ahead and Storage

The fried garlic and shallots and the broth might perhaps presumably well also be made as a lot as five days in approach; refrigerate the broth till ready to make exhaust of, and sustain the fried garlic and shallots in airtight containers at room temperature.

The noodles might perhaps presumably well also be frozen for as a lot as one month: To freeze, arrange in thin, even layers on parchment on a rimmed baking sheet, stacking more parchment between every layer; wrap properly in plastic, then freeze. To cook dinner frozen noodles, situation without prolong into boiling broth without thawing and let cook dinner 1 to 2 minutes longer than recent noodles till they streak to the bottom.

Read More

  • Lao Food 101: Valuable Dishes From Laos and Isan
  • Gaeng Om Gai (Isan-Type Natural Curry with Chicken and Dill) Recipe
  • Exact-Deal Khao Soi Gai (Northern Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken) Recipe
  • Lao Stuffed Lemongrass (Ua Si Khai) Recipe

Read More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button