Taken from The Rangoon Sisters, by Amy and Emily Chung
This is one of our favourite dishes; it is lightly spiced, comforting, rich with coconut and it certainly leaves an impression. We often make a big batch of this for parties, specifically birthdays – Dad was a firm believer in the Chinese tradition of having noodles for good luck on your birthday! Guests can adjust their bowls to their own tastes by adding various multitextured garnishes and condiments from a selection on the table.
- 5tbs oil (vegetable, sunflower or peanut), plus extra for browning the chicken
- 5 medium onions, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled
- 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 3cm pieces
- 2tbs paprika
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- 2tsp chilli powder
- 100g creamed coconut (the solid block type), or 200ml coconut milk would work
- 2tbs gram flour, toasted
- 600ml chicken stock
- 2-3tbs fish sauce
- 400ml cold water
- 6 nests (450g-500g) dried chow mein or egg noodles, cooked
- 3 limes, cut into wedges
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
- Coriander leaves
- 4 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 batch of crispy fried rice noodles (see below)
- Chilli flakes or chilli oil
- Fish sauce
Toasted gram flour
- Gram/besan chickpea flour – 200g is a good amount for about two salads, but you can make as much or as little as you like
Sift the gram flour into a bowl, as it is usually quite lumpy. Heat a clean dry frying pan over a low-medium heat and add the flour. Stir around so it is distributed evenly and continue to stir intermittently, to ensure even toasting. It will begin to smell slightly nutty and will brown slightly after about five minutes. It may clump a little, which is normal; you can always resift it if it is particularly clumpy.
Tip into a bowl and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container. It should keep well for three months.
Crispy fried noodles
- Oil (vegetable, sunflower or peanut), for deep-frying
- 200g dried rice or egg noodles
Pour the oil into a wok or deep saucepan to a depth of 5cm and set over a medium-high heat. Line a large bowl with kitchen paper and have a heatproof strainer or sieve ready for fishing out the noodles.
Test the readiness of the oil by popping a piece of noodle into it – it should instantly sizzle (rice noodles will curl up and turn opaque and bubbly). Separate the nest of noodles and add a handful to the oil, frying for a minute, then scoop up with your chosen implement and drain on the kitchen paper. Continue to dry the remaining noodles in batches as above. These will stay crispy in an airtight container for a day or two.
Coconut chicken noodles
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish set over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook slowly, turning down the heat to low-medium and stirring every 4-5 minutes until softened and starting to lightly brown in colour and become oily but not crispy – this should take about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves and ginger to a paste using a pestle and mortar, or blitz in a food processor.
Once the onions are ready, add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for two minutes to release the gorgeous ﬂavours. Add a splash more oil, then brown the chicken pieces with the onion/garlic/ginger mix. Add the spices and creamed coconut, breaking it up into smaller pieces as you stir – it should melt. Stir in the toasted gram ﬂour, followed by the chicken stock, ﬁsh sauce and the cold water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer, uncovered, over a low, gentle heat for about 30 minutes. If the broth is too thick, add some water.
Serve hot on a bed of cooked egg noodles. Add a squeeze of lime juice and top with boiled eggs and the remaining garnishes in little bowls for everyone to help themselves to.
This chicken curry can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to four days. It can also be frozen for up to three months.
Photography by Martin Poole
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