the taste space

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Vegan Khao Soi)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 25, 2013

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Kao Soi)

What makes someone “interesting”?

Rob and I were discussing this. He thinks we’re interesting. We do a lot of things that are a bit out of the ordinary. Ignoring, of course, the obvious foodie fetishes (whole foods vegan is interesting? hehe).

1. We learn by gardening. Wherever we live, we’re the house with (edible) kale and collards in the front yard.

2. We like to cycle. Not only for commuting, but also our crazy long distances of years yonder. At one time, anything within 200km was fair game.

3. We go to the gym. My preferences are spinning, combat, shred and pump. (Not sure that makes me interesting but I can tell you how much I can squat for 5 minutes!)

4. We like to travel. Rob and I have traveled a few places together (Iceland, Colombia and multiple places in the US), but we met each other with passports already filled. Literally, Rob’s passport was filled after a year spent backpacking in Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Mine had stamps for a few places.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Kao Soi)

This is beyond what we do for work… Rob knows all about mobile devices and its software, whereas I am a resident in pathology.

Those are fun things to chat about because I can’t tell you much about television shows (except my adoration for Dexter and Drop Dead Diva), movies (I used to watch a lot more movies) or make intelligible conversations about politics. We have no TV, although that does not excuse the latter.  Rob usually keeps me abreast of internet meme sensations. People like to talk about renovations and home design, whereas we both are pretty clueless on that front. Case in point: The only furniture we bought after we moved in together two years ago was a new bed… and Rob bought himself a new desk after our second move (because he broke the first one dismantling it for the move, hehe).

Does that make us interesting? It just makes us us.

The people who find us interesting likely have similar interests… otherwise, we’d just be boring to them. ;)

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Kao Soi)

I was recently reading through Rob’s (mostly neglected) blog and it brought back great memories. Cycling, travelling, birthdays. This year has been tough for me as I focus more on studying and less on my hobbies. Our last vacation (in Colombia) seems like such a distant memory. Our vacation this year will be our road trip to our new home in Houston. A bit shorter than usual at only a week, but we’ll still cover a lot of ground. Probably around 3000 km if we do a few detours. Once in Houston, we plan to capitalize on short trips to South and Central America (I hope!). And, let’s not forget our upcoming summer trip for Burning Man. Anyone else going? This will be my first time and Rob’s third visit.

A lot of happiness spurs from memories of our experiences. It is true that you forget the bad parts, or at least use the bad parts as fodder for jokes. The highlights stick with you most. The excitement of being in a hot air balloon overtop Turkey’s enchanting fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, or jumping into Icelandic hot springs after a frigid hike up a mountain, watching icebergs float to sea, hiking through a Colombian jungle to see The Lost City, waking up at the crack of dawn to go snowshoeing in freshly laid snow in Horseshoe Valley or the tears of joy after cycling to Niagara Falls and being greeted by a rainbow. I can’t believe this all happened within the past 3 years. It is amazing what we can do if we set our mind to it.

Getting back to one of our biggest hobbies, though: food!

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Kao Soi)

Intertwined with our travels, food can transport us back to those memories. Rob has recreated some of his favourite meals from his time while backpacking, including Vegetarian Khao Soi. One of his memorable meals from Thailand, it is a brothy coconut curry with boiled egg noodles and tofu, topped with crispy fried egg noodles. His go-to recipe is not Janet-friendly with red curry paste (our store-bought version has shrimp paste in it and is super spicy), fried noodles and fish sauce. Undeterred to share his love of khao soi with me, he decided to make this recipe with a few substitutions along the way.

A bit more involved than his original recipe, this version has you making your own curry paste from fresh turmeric (yes!), ginger, cilantro, garlic and chilies. No shrimp here. It is used to flavour a coconut curry broth that is studded with tempeh, noodles, lime and cilantro. I used kelp noodles for mine whereas Rob prefers the egg noodles. Absolutely delicious.

If you find yourself in Thailand, this dish can be found for a bargain for only $1. Although it may not be vegan-friendly, so why not try to make it at home instead? :)

So, please tell me… what makes you or someone else interesting?

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Kao Soi)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Khao Soi)
Adapted from Roots

4 dried chilies, seeded
5 slices peeled ginger, each 1/2 cm thick4 shallots, unpeeled
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
15g piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and cut into 1 cm thick pieces
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp salt
30 fresh cilantro stems, cut into 1 cm pieces

14 oz can low-fat coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 tbsp coconut oil
8 oz tempeh, chopped into 1-cm cubes
1 tbsp sugar (omitted)
2 cups water
2 tbsp tamari, soy sauce or Bragg’s (the original recipe called for 2 tbsp fish sauce + 1 tbsp dark soy sauce)
1 tsp salt, or to taste (we used less)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or to taste)
1 lb dried Chinese-style egg noodles (or 16 oz kelp noodles if you are me!)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup (10g) cilantro leaves
1 lime, sliced into wedges

1. Begin by making your kao soi paste. (You could also substitute red curry paste as found in Rob’s original recipe but Rob preferred this recipe). Place chiles in warm water and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Place ginger, shallots, garlic, turmeric and soaked chiles onto a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes until charred and fragrant. Watch so that they do not burn. The garlic and shallots may take longer so eye each ingredient individually.

2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the peel from the shallots and garlic. It should be easy to remove. In a spice grinder or small food processor, combine charred vegetables, coriander seeds, salt, cilantro stems and grind into you achieve a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as required. Add water or coconut milk if your processor is struggling with making a paste. The paste may be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days or use it immediately to make kao soi.

3. Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it. Separate the thick cream from the watery liquid part, placing each it a separate cup.

4. In a large pan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add kao soi paste and stir fry around 30 seconds. Add the thick coconut milk and cook, stirring constantly until it comes to a simmer. Add the tempeh and optional sugar and cook until the tempeh is warm, around 5 minutes. Stir in the thin coconut milk, water, soy sauce and salt and return to a simmer. Simmer until tempeh absorbs some of the flavours, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Set aside until ready.

5. Meanwhile, cook your noodles. For kelp noodles, just rinse them. You could fry a portion of the noodles as a garnish for an authentic kao soi, but we skipped that this time (for directions, see Rob’s original recipe). I also don’t think kelp noodles can be deep-fried!

6. To serve, divide the noodles among 4 bowls and ladle the tempeh curry overtop. Top with deep-fried noodles if you’ve done that, then sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and a slice of lime.

Serves 2-4.

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26 Responses

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  1. Rob said, on April 25, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Hi Janet! I knew that you were interesting when I met you :)

    And if we’ve had these great adventures in the past three years, think of what great adventures we will have in the future!

    P.S.: khao soi is super :)

  2. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said, on April 25, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    I think traveling and being active make people more interesting. A variety of experiences leads to neat outlooks and stories to tell. I’d love to share a travel-inspired meal with you guys one day! I have actually spent a good deal of time in Houston. I have family there and it’s where my boss lives! Perhaps our paths will cross soon. ;)

  3. Joanne said, on April 25, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Awww I definitely think you guys are interested and I can say that for real seeing as how I’ve met you both in person! But I think anyone interested in food is interesting by default…but that’s probably because I’m also interested in food. Anyways. This recipe is totally my kind of meal! Can’t wait to try it!

  4. Hannah said, on April 25, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Isn’t this more that these are your interests, rather than that they’re interesting in an “odd” way? Or maybe it’s just because these are interests that so many people I know have, so it’s my frame of reference and therefore doesn’t seem bizarre to me?

    Anyway, hurrah for travel and gardens and delicious curries!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 25, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      I know, I don’t think we are interesting, either. Although, Rob and I were talking about whether we are interesting in context of making new friends.. and I suppose shared interests bring people together.

      • Hannah said, on April 25, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        Oh, I didn’t mean that you aren’t interesting!! I just meant not in, like, a weird way. :P I think you are both fascinatingly wonderful interesting glorious people!

  5. elizabeth said, on April 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    I don’t usually like the store bought curry past, so I’ll have to try this when I can get some fresh tumeric. Can you use fresh thai chilies for this or only dried?

  6. Ellen Lederman said, on April 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Don’t forget to visit me when you are in Atlanta visiting Laura!

    Interesting that you posted this while I am reading a novel called The Interestings about a group of teens who met at a summer camp for gifted artistic kids and proclaim themselves to be interesting…but then life happens and they don’t always live as interesting/fulfilling a life as they would like.

    What I think makes people interesting:

    1. Interest in ideas/places/people/activities that transcend themselves.
    Nothing makes someone boring and uninteresting when they are totally wrapped up in themselves and their lives and have no interest in anything beyond them. That being said, it can be difficult to always transcend yourself. I can somewhat do so when I do yoga. Sometimes listening to music or reading or watching a really good movie. All too often, wherever you go, there you are!

    2. Retaining their integrity and being true to themselves.
    It’s boring and uninteresting when people vacillate all over the place and try to be something they are not. I firmly believe in being yourself because no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong!

    3. Changing/growing.
    This may seem to contradict #2, but it really doesn’t. Someone’s truth/likes/dislikes can change over time. Being stagnant is boring.

    4. Some paradoxes in thinking, behaving, etc.
    I used to dislike and be embarrassed by my paradoxes. For example, how could I be a healthy eater but still drool over chocolate? How could I like the tranquility of yoga but also like doing Zumba? How could I enjoy being with people but then crave solitude? But it’s these paradoxes that make me interesting, I believe, and not one- or two-dimensional.

    5. Having a variety of eclectic/eccentric interests.
    To some extent, someone who is focused on just one thing can be interesting—but it can get old to just hear about someone playing golf or chess or running or whatever. I help organize some Meetup groups and was criticized by my co-organizer because he felt I wasn’t devoting enough time and energy to the classical music Meetup. He actually said maybe I could give up a vegan dinner Meetup and attend more classical music performances. I was mortified and wanted to disappear under a rock…until I decided to accept some of the truth of what he was saying…and to embrace my being eclectic/eccentric. I owned up to these traits and actually started a Meetup group called Eccentric/Eclectic Excellent Events that touch upon all my interests: hiking, ethnic/vegan foods, lectures, jazz, classical music, rock, foreign and independent films, and so on.

    Sorry about the long reply!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 26, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Ellen, wow, where to start. First, of course, I plan to meet up with you as well in Atlanta! I have always wanted to go to some meet-ups. I went to a Maple Syrup Festival hike but otherwise I was too busy to go again (met Rob shortly thereafter). Probably not a bad idea when we move to Houston since we won’t know very many people at all.. and if someone had an Eccentric/Eclectic Excellent Events in Houston, I’d be all over it. :)

      I can completely relate to many of your paradoxes, although I just look at them as balance. I need alone time but can’t always be alone… Oh, and speaking of chocolate, I made the chocolate raspberry hazelnut cups yesterday. Is the ganache topping supposed to be like a chocolate shell or softer? I had some right after I made it, waiting a bit for it to harden and it was great… but now the chocolate is thick and solid after an overnight in the fridge. I wonder if I should keep it out at room temp to softer.

      • Ellen Lederman said, on April 26, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        It hardens into a very hard shell that you can’t get a spoon into (especially after it’s frozen, which I often do). I take it out about half an hour before attempting to eat it.

      • janet @ the taste space said, on April 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        OK, that’s what I have.. haha. I should have made them in removable muffin liners or something so that it was like a chocolate bar. In the ramekin, it is like carnage to get through the top layer. ;)

  7. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on April 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    I think what makes people interesting is completely owning who they are and what they are into. Whether it’s the most normal thing on the planet (like cooking) or something not so common. When you are into something, when own who you are and what you enjoy- that’s when I get fascinated.

    Which is clearly why I love blogging and getting to know bloggers such as yourself. Because aren’t we all exactly that?

    Delicious meal Janet!

  8. emmycooks said, on April 26, 2013 at 3:06 AM

    This dish is one of my fondest food memories from backpacking through Thailand as well. I’m also looking forward to trying the maca energy balls you linked to above–they sound like great fuel for our weekend bike ride from Seattle to Portland this summer! :) Needless to say, I find your adventures and recipes very interesting. :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 26, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Hey, that is very neat. I hadn’t even heard of khao soi, but then again I haven’t been to Thailand. It isn’t one of the popular Thai/Burmese dishes at restos either.

      Yay for long-distance cycling!! Rob wants to do Cycle Oregon next year. Have you ever tried that? Our friends have done it multiple times times and say it is loads of fun. :)

      • emmycooks said, on April 29, 2013 at 12:50 AM

        I’ve never heard of Cycle Oregon, but now I’ll have to look it up!

  9. rebacox said, on April 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    So glad i stumbled upon your blog earlier this week. Your pictures are beautiful and this is another great recipe. Very out of the box.

  10. Jade C said, on April 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Hey, I love this post :). It really made me smile. It is amazing how much you can go through and experience in just a few years. I love reading of peoples’ travelling adventures and really hope to have that opportunity in the future with my boyfriend. You and Rob are so lucky to have each other and share these adventurous hobbies :). I would really like to go to Thailand one day, and Pat really wants to go to Japan :P . We’ll try to make sure that we do both!!
    Jade C :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 27, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Hey Jade, It may seem extravagant but you just need to do it. Rob and I have both been to Japan and absolutely loved it. It is safe, clean, fun and a different culture as well… Not so cheap (and definitely not as cheap as Thailand – Rob has been there, not me). Maybe you should try to hit up both on the same trip? :)

  11. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on April 26, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    I love that you have taken ingredients I love – coriander, chilli – and put them with coconut milk (which I don’t usually love) to give a dish that sounds great :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 27, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      I don’t normally like coconut milk either (Rob loves all things coconut) but it was really good here since it was a brothy soup.

  12. Deb in Hawaii said, on April 28, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    I love how delicious this looks–the color and all those noodles in the curry sauce. Perfect! Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays! ;-)

  13. Genevieve said, on April 29, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Beautiful pictures of this recipe! Brings back some of my own memories of travelling in Chiang Mai and the amazing food there. I like your twists with the kelp noodles and tempeh instead of tofu…and that homemade curry paste sounds like it would be worth the extra effort!


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