Ohn-No Kyauswe Recipe (Coconut Noodles) Recipe (Burmese Laksa)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Every cuisine has her own favourite noodles.

We associate a good bowl of it as a signature of the cuisine.

Penang-nites can be proud of their Assam Laksa and Hokkien Prawn Mee.
Thais their Pad Thai (strictly speaking, served on a plate).
Malays their Mee Rebus.
Indonesians, Mee Soto.
Vietnamese, Pho.

Singaporeans? I have to pause a while here as there are a few contenders. Perhaps there is lack of both a distinctive and outstanding one that is internationally recognised and loved as something Singaporean.

Bak Chor Mee comes closest, perhaps. If I am away from Singapore for too long, that is the first dish I miss.

I have been to cities where "Singapore noodles" were proudly signed and sold. I have no idea what they were.

I come now to one of the least known regional cuisine: Myanmar. This country is now opening up after years of self-imposed isolation. Helmed in by two strong civilisations, India and China, and with influence coming from neighboring Thailand, her cuisine today is unique and something to be discovered.

When it comes to noodles, Mohinga (Rice Noodles in Fish Soup) and Ohn-No Kyauswe (Coconut Noodles) comes to mind. Of the two, the latter is more popular outside of Myanmar and is sometimes referred to locally as Burmese Laksa.

It is very good eating and relatively easy to make in the home. Locally, while our noodles here are different, the necessary ingredients can be obtained easily. What is unique is chick pea flour, which is easily available in Indian stores (I have not checked the supermarts yet).

Noodles are always based on stocks or sauces of some kind and once you master some recipes, other noodles should be easy for you to learn. In fact, If you can make Penang Prawn Mee well, most other noodles will come easier to you.

I am thankful to some Burmese friends who introduced this dish to me and explained how it is made. With further help from a recipe in a  Burmese Cookbook (The Food of Burma by Claudia Saw Lwin), I am happy to introduce this to you and hopefully, more homes can enjoy this.

As usual, I will list the recipe, method and some cooking notes towards the end.

Ohn-No Kyauswe Recipe (Coconut Noodles) Recipe 

To serve 10 persons

500g boneless and skinned chicken, cubed
Oil - 4 Tbps
4 Tbps onion paste
2 Tbp garlic paste
1 Tbps ginger paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli flake/powder
100g (about 1 cup) chickpea flour
500 ml (2 cups) water
2 litres chicken stock
400 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
8 Tbps Fish Sauce

5 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
1 bowl of chopped coriander leaves
2 limes, quartered
2 kg of Yellow Mee or 500 gm of Tagliatelle pasta
Chilli flakes/powder
Fish Sauce

  1. Marinate the cubed chicken with the fish sauce.
  2. Blend the onion, garlic and ginger into a paste.
  3. Heat up some oil in the pot or pan.
  4. Add the paste, chilli and turmeric powder. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, using a large bowl for whisking, add the chickpea flour and water and whisk to remove lumps. Then combine with the broth. Whisk or stir the stock to ensure that the chickpea flour is dissolved and not lumping. If there are still stubborn lumps, just stick a blender in :). 
  7. Add coconut milk to the broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. The broth should have some viscosity due to the chickpea flour.  
  8. Add the cubed chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  9. Adjust the taste if need be, with more fish sauce. The broth is done. 
  10. Prepare the noodles. Yellow Mee will need about a minute blanching. For tagliatelle pasta, follow the box instructions.
  11. In a deep plate or large bowl, add the prepared noodles. Pour in some broth. Garnish with sliced onions, crispy noodle (see not below), chopped coriander leaves, a slice of lime and sliced eggs. Serve. Diners can add their own lime and chilli flakes. 
Cooking & Eating notes:
  1. The sliced fresh onions is very refreshing in this. Don't skip it.
  2. The crispy bits for garnishing may seem optional but they are tasty when combined with the thick broth. I deep fried some dried pad thai noodles in a small pot to to make that garnish (they crisp up in seconds). 
  3. For the noodles, you can also use soup hor fun or even bee hoon. My wife liked it with Tagliatelle pasta and it does go very well together (pasta and broth, I mean :)).
  4. I sometimes add some nice seasonal veg, i.e. broccolini.
  5. As for the chicken stock, home prepared ones are best but commercial ones are fine too.  
As you can see, this is not a difficult dish to make. It also works well for a party and you can choose to let your guest garnish their bowl themselves. And I hope that through this recipe, you will begin to get curious and enjoy other recipes from the beautiful land and people of Myanmar.

Noodle are convenient to cook and eat, nutritious and comfort food at it's best. Try this out.


Dried pad Thai noodles. Deep fry it for the crispy bits (below). Optional

Crisped noodles for garnishing
Whisked chickpea flour in some water
Finished broth
A party version where I used yellow egg noodles
With yellow mee
Served with Tagliatelle pasta

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