Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey
Burmese Khao Suey (Ohn No Khauk Swe, ohn no khao swè, ohn no kauk swe) is a Burmese-inspired coconut noodle dish with chicken and your choice of toppings.
My aunt, who is not Burmese introduced me to this dish a couple of years ago and it’s been on my dinner rotation regularly. I believe the recipe was passed down by her sister-in-law who again is not Burmese. So essentially the recipe I am sharing is probably not your “traditional’ Burmese Khao Suey but it’s delicious and easy recipe for a quick week night meal + as a leftover. I came across many variations of Khao Suey on the internets using different spices, ingredients and cooking steps but I am sticking with my aunt’s fuss-free Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey, which I think is perfect as it is.
Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey comes together in 3 easy steps :
NOODLES: Cook noodles per package instructions. You can pick whatever noodles you prefer - thin spaghetti, whole wheat, rice noodles, fettuccini but my personal favorite is “thin spaghetti” cooked little more than al dente. If you are into zoodles (zucchini noodles), it works fine as long as you add the zoodles right before serving.
COCONUT CHICKEN BASE : The central part of Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey is the “coconut chicken base” which is a finger licking good concoction of cooked shredded chicken simmered in coconut milk, chicken broth, and garbanzo bean flour. The yellow hue comes from a teensy pinch of turmeric and garbanzo flour. I haven’t tried a vegetarian version or with different meat although I am tempted to try it with mushroom or perhaps jackfruit?
Garbanzo flour adds a nice creaminess to the overall dish while chicken broth adds both flavor and lightens the richness of coconut milk. Unlike the Restaurant Style Red Thai Curry, Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey isn’t too bold with coconut flavor if you are concerned. You can find garbanzo bean flour (also known as besan in Hindi or chickpea flour) at an International grocery store, Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour, or from bulk bin aisle at supermarkets like Central Market or Sprouts. You can thicken or thin out the coconut chicken depending on your preference - stew/thick base or soup (ey) consistency!
TOPPINGS : Do not under value the power of toppings, especially the crunchy ones! I like a mix of crunchy, herby, spicy and more crunchy. Since the noodles and coconut chicken base has a soft texture, a layer of crunchy noodles adds a nice bite, which I think is necessary. Green onions, fried onions/garlic, squeeze of lemon elevates the dish to a whole another level. Personally, I prefer crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, and mint or cilantro to mine but the boyfriend thinks those do not belong in Khao Suey. To each his own but we both agree that crunchy noodles (also known as chow mein noodles), fried garlic chips or onions (or both preferably) and green onions are an ABSOLUTE MUST. Eggs (soft-boiled or hard-boiled) are suggested but not entirely necessary.
Ideas to use up leftover garbanzo bean flour :
My aunt’s Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey is pretty fuss-free with ingredients that can be sourced easily and is totally doable on a weeknight. It’s also great to feed a large crowd with endless topping bar. I hope you will give this Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey a try and enjoy it with your loved ones.
Burmese-Inspired Khao Suey
thin spaghetti noodles, about 2 oz. dry per person (I eyeball and cook about 1/2 lb dry)
2 chicken breast (about 4-5 oz each breast)
pinch of turmeric + 1 teaspoon for later
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as canola, avocado
3 garlic cloves, crushed
small knob of ginger, grated
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1-14 oz. canned coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
salt, pepper to taste
fried onions, garlic
chow mein (aka fried noodles)
chopped green onions
eggs (hard boiled or soft boiled)
herbs like Thai basil, mint, cilantro
- Fill a large pot with water and cook noodles according to the package direction. Drain the liquid and set aside.
- Rinse the pot or use another pot bring the water to simmer. Then, add chicken and pinch of turmeric for about 15 minutes. The time can vary depending on the size and thickness of chicken breast. Let it cool and shred the chicken using forks or hand mixer.
- In a clean pot, heat oil to medium and sauté onion for few minutes until no longer translucent. Add turmeric, ginger and garlic and sauté for couple more minutes, then toast garbanzo flour for 2-3 minutes with everything.
- Add coconut milk and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer if needed.
- Add shredded chicken to the mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes until it reaches the desired consistency. Add more broth if you like Khao Suey to be more on the soup side. Turn off heat and enjoy it hot.
- When serving, add noodle on a bowl then ladle coconut chicken base, followed by your topping of choice.
Leftover shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken can be used instead of cooking chicken breast to save time and reduce food waste.
Store every component of the dish - noodles, coconut chicken base, and toppings separately and heat them and assemble right before serving.