I am very excited to share with you the recipe for a very traditional Burmese dish. In Myanmar, it is called Ohno Kawk Swé (pronounced ‘ono-kaw-sué’), which literally means coconut milk (ohno) noodles (kawk swé).
With some Chinese and Indian influences, Burmese cuisine is incredibly delicious. Londoners may know Myanmar food thanks to the popular Shoreditch restaurant Lahpet, but in general, the traditional Burmese cuisine is not so well known.
The recipe I publish today is courtesy of my Mom, therefore, 100% authentic Burmese and homemade-style! I spent a good half an hour on the phone with her, making sure I understood every single step. I received her blessing to share this dish on the blog ♥ I made a few adjustments, though… but don’t worry, the final result is still absolutely stunning!
The soup is made with diced chicken, which you’ll need to marinate beforehand. It is served hot and accompanied by various garnishes (all mandatory for the best result!). In the end, I’ll explain how to assemble the plate with the toppings. The soup is eaten with a spoon only, no chopsticks or forks, but you can use a knife to cut your noodles if you prefer 🙂
My mom suggests preparing the soup a day in advance, as it truly tastes much better the day after. If you are impatient, you can also enjoy it immediately!
Making this soup is not complex. It only requires following some steps, which I hope I explained clearly enough. My advice is to read the recipe in full before you start preparing it.
The Burmese Chicken Coconut Noodles Soup is definitely suitable for all cooking skill levels. I hope it will encourage you to cook something a little different than usual and to get closer to the Myanmar food culture.
Burmese Coconut Milk Noodles Soup (with chicken)
Chicken and its marinade
Coconut Milk Soup
Dice the chicken meat and place it in a large bowl. Add the spices for the marinade and mix well using your hands (you can wear cooking gloves if you wish, as the turmeric can stain your nails...). Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, start preparing the other ingredients of the soup: 1. Finely chop the onions, garlic and fresh ginger - it is better to use a food processor. Chop the fresh chilli with a knife. 2. Peel the shallots (don't chop them, as you will cook them whole). N.B.: If you do not have shallots, you can use two small onions and roughly chop them. 3. Place the gram flour in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and whisk thoroughly.
By now, the chicken should have been in the marinade for almost 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilli. Add 1 tsp of turmeric and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes on medium/low heat.
Add the diced chicken and keep stirring until the surface of the meat is white and sealed (you can increase the heat to medium/high). Add the chicken stock cube (or powder), cover the pot with a lid and cook for 10 minutes on low/medium heat. During this time, the chicken will release its juices. Stir occasionally.
Give another whisk to the gram and water mixture, and add it to the chicken. Add the whole peeled shallots and combine well. Cover the pot with its lid and continue to cook on low/medium heat for another 30 minutes, allowing the soup to thicken. When this time has passed, add the coconut milk, the fish sauce and stir well. Leave to cook for another 10 minutes on low/medium heat. Taste and adjust with more seasoning or fish sauce, according to your preferences.
Prepare the garnishes
1. Boil the eggs. 2. Cook the egg noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes. (Optional: If you wish, you can take 3-4 noodles, cut them in short stripes of 5cm length and fry them in hot vegetable oil. You can then add them on top of the final plate, giving some crunchiness to the soup). 3. Finely slice the spring onions, and chop the parsley (or coriander). 4. Cut the limes into wedges. 5. Make a quick chilli oil: heat 4 tbsp of oil in a pan, add a tsp of chilli powder and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Transfer it into a small bowl. Alternatively, you can simply serve some chilli powder or chilli flakes.
Serve the soup hot. It is a Burmese tradition to place all the dishes, including the garnishes, on the table so that each person can assemble their own plate (see the picture).
How to prepare the plate
Ladle the soup into a large bowl (make sure you include some chicken pieces!) and add a handful of cooked egg noodles into the middle of the soup. Garnish with half of a boiled egg, a wedge of fresh lime (squeeze its juice on the soup before start eating it), a tbsp of sliced spring onions and some parsley (or coriander). Pour a few drops of chilli oil (or chilli powder/flakes) all around. Take a spoon and enjoy your meal! Add extra garnishes according to your taste.