114. Laos: Khao Soi (Yellow Curry Noodle Soup)

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Laos a country very very high on my list to go to! A sleepy mountainous country of barely over 2 million people, mostly rice farmers. To my surprise, Laos hasn’t always been so peaceful.

Though never truly at war with Laos, the Americans were at war with Vietnam, and they flew more than half a million missions over this tiny country. Dropping more bombs here than on Germany and Japan in all of World War II combined. This is a conflict known nowadays as The Secret War. I don’t want to get into it too much because that is not what this blog is about, but what happened was horrific.

Nowadays Laos is a very popular destination for backpackers because it’s cheap and the crime rate is very low.

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-21 om 20.39.49

Things you didn’t know about Laos:

  • Laos may be landlocked – or ‘landlinked’ if you prefer – but that doesn’t mean a beach holiday is completely off the cards. If you head to Si Phan Don (literally “4,000 islands”) in Southern Laos, you’ll find serene sandy shores – and adventure – aplenty.
  • Nong Fa Lake – a crater lake high in the mountains of southeastern Laos – is feared and respected by locals, who refuse to swim in it. Legend has it, a man-eating monster lives at the bottom. Nong Fa (which translates to ‘blue lake’ or ‘sky lake’) is quite remote and can be reached by only the most intrepid explorers.
  • Lao silk stands apart from that of neighboring countries in that is it 100% hand woven. The exact weaving process differs from family to family as do the patterns, making them truly unique. The average rate of production is around a meter a day – or a few centimeters for an elaborate weave. Handwoven silk has a more ‘natural’, unrefined texture than silk produced on an industrial loom.
  • While Laos is more than 50% populated by ethnic Lao (Lao Lum), there are more than 60 – some say more than 100 – different ethnic groups living within its borders. Lao’s people are categorized by altitude: 50 percent are lowland peoples, living around the Mekong; 20 percent live in the Midlands and highlands, and 15 percent live above 1,000 meters. The remaining 15 percent are Thai.
  • Laos has the unenviable status of being the most bombed nation in the world. There are estimated to be 270 million unexploded bombs in the country.

This noodle soup has a lot of ingredients but it’s totally worth taking the time to make your own curry paste! It takes a little time but it makes they dish infinitely better! And most of the ingredients I had in my freezer; lemongrass, ginger, and galanga (Thai ginger) I always make sure I have in stock. I make a lot of curries and they keep forever in the freezer!

laos

Ingredients:

Curry paste : (10 tablespoons)

  • 3 Cardamon pods
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 dried red peppers (peperoncini
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass (cut up into small rings)
  • 7gr galanga (Thai ginger)
  • 14 gr ginger
  • 30 gr of garlic cloves
  • 120 gr shallots
  • 1tbsp Asian shrimp paste

Curry:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp mild Indian curry powder
  • 60 ml Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 90 gr palm sugar
  • 1,2 liters coconut milk
  • Shrimp
  • Noodles (any will do really)
  • Lime
  1. Blend everything for the curry paste together, or if you have the time use a pestle and mortar. You can freeze the curry paste for later if you made to much.
  2. Bake the curry paste in the sunflower oil until it starts to be really fragrant and the smell of raw onions is gone.
  3. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and palm sugar. Stir regularly until the sugar has been dissolved.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 45 minutes so all the flavors can blend into one delicious curry. Add the shrimp and the noodles and boil until the noodles are ready. Finish with a squeeze of lime!

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