As mentioned previously, khao sen (ข้าวเส้น), a thin, pork- and tomato-based broth served over khanom jeen noodles, is one of the most popular dishes in Mae Hong Son. It’s also a relatively easy dish to re-create if you live somewhere where you don’t have access to exotic ingredients. If you can’t get fresh khanom jeen noodles where you live, try rehydrating sen mee — the thinnest grade of Thai-style dried rice noodle (shown here). This recipe was told me by the second generation cook at Paa Jaang, a home-based restaurant that serves the dish. In Mae Hong Son, khao sen is eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Khao Sen (Shan-style noodle soup)
-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
-100g (about 8) shallots, sliced
-50g (about 10 cloves) garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp shrimp paste
-½ can Three Lady Cooks Brand mackerel in tomato sauce (this stuff)
-500g tart cherry tomatoes, halved
-250g pork loin, coarsely chopped
-500g pork bones
-1 Tbsp Knorr chicken stock powder
–khanom jeen noodles
-Deep-fried garlic in oil
-Chopped green onion
Heat oil in stock pot over a low flame and fry shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add shrimp paste, mixing and pressing to combine, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add canned mackerel (including tomato sauce), mixing and pressing to combine, until fragrant and a thin layer of oil emerges, about 5 minutes.
Increase heat to medium and add tomatoes. Fry until somewhat reduced and oil re-emerges, about 20 minutes.
Add pork. Fry until oil re-emerges, 10 minutes.
Add water and pork bones. Increase heat to high; when mixture reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 20 minutes.
Add Knorr chicken stock powder and salt to taste, if necessary. Allow to simmer another 10 to 20 minutes until soup is slightly reduced and amalgamated. The finished soup should still be relatively thin, and should taste tart, savoury and salty (in that order).
Remove stock bones if they are too big to serve. Serve a generous amount of the soup over khanom jeen noodles topped with garnishes of garlic oil, coriander and green onion, along with optional sides of shredded cabbage, lime, salt and dried ground chili.
Off Th Khunlumprapat, Mae Hong Son
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