25.2.15

A little piece of home. Coconut chicken noodle soup

Memory.  The word itself is small but the meaning and the substance behind the word memory is so unbearably vast, isn't it?  Someone once asked me if I dream in Burmese or English.  I found I couldn't answer that question because not only do I not remember my dreams but because my Burmese and American identities are so immersed together.  If I am going to be really honest though, my memories of Burma and who I was then seem like a very distance memory that I keep trying to hold onto.  What I do remember are smells...smell of monsoon rain...intoxicating sense of jasmine...always present smell of food.  I sometimes wake up in the morning under my thick comforter expecting to smell the fragrance of shallots and garlic being fried in a bubbling oil over a very old and beat up wok.  There is a sense of disappointment and slow rising of home sickness that crawl up from the pit of my stomach.  That feeling is always fleeting and most of the time, I wake up thinking it to be part of a dream.  So much of my feeling toward my birth place is engulfed with my love for food.  It is the single most important part of my memories of home.  When I close my eyes to conjure up whatever fragment of my past, I smell my grandmother and mother's home cooked meals.  I hear the laughter of my mother and her sisters that never cease to bring such comfort into my soul. Their wonderful conversations of sisterhood always happen around the dinner table or around food.  As a child, I felt so lucky to be apart of this sisterhood of strength and unbreakable love.  The fact of the matter is Burmese people are just obsessed with food.  I don't think they would wake up in the morning if they knew there wouldn't be a good hearty breakfast to be eaten.  We discuss what we are going to eat for lunch while sipping our sweet morning coffee.  We plan out our tea time treats while preparing our lunch.  We make plans for dinner during our tea time.  Of course between those times, we find ourselves snacking on delicious street snacks.


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You can walk down any street and find the most delicious and freshly made food.


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If I could go back in time, I would wake up with the rising of the morning sun and walk around street market with my grandmother to shop for the day's menu.  Every morning, my little grandmother would wake up at 5 to walk to our local market.  No body can stop her.  I think cooking is such a huge part of her identity.


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If I could go back in time, I would ask those strong women of mine to teach me all that other previous strong women of theirs have taught them.  I know now that what I know of my culture is so little and what I want of my home is too much.  Almost everyday I cook Burmese food at home.  I love it when friends come over and ask for a Burmese dish I have cooked for them.  I love the excitement of all my food loving friends who circle around my stove while taking turns tasting the food right out of the pot...for you know, just to see how it tastes.  : )  I cannot explain to you the joy I feel in those moments when I feel like my grandmother or mother...for in those moments, I feel closest to them.  This dish is very special to my heart.  It is called coconut chicken noodle soup or in Burmese, Ohn No Khao Swe.  People usually make this dish for special occasions but you can find many little street vendors making this delicious soup as a breakfast item.



I have not met one person who doesn't love this soup.  If you like coconut, you will love this.  It is the perfect cold day soup.  Just like in most Asian soups, garnishes are the most essential and fun part of the meal.




I always cook myself a huge pot of this thinking it will last me a few days but somehow it is gone in a day.  I cannot tell you how many calories are in this soup but I can assure you it is not for the faint of heart. : )


Next time you feel like you don't know what to cook for the day, I hope you give this soup a try.  


Ingredients

- 1 large onion
-2 small cloves of garlic
-4 tbsp of vegetable oil
-1 tbsp of paprika
-1 tbsp of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper <optional>
-1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken <I use chicken thighs but you can use breasts also.>
-4 tbsp of fish sauce <if you don't have fish sauce, you can use salt but fish sauce is the BOMB>
-1 can of coconut milk <not the kind that you find at the refrigerated section but the kind you can find in an Asian food section.  It comes in a tin can.>
-1 can of evaporated milk
-32 oz of chicken broth
-egg noodle

Garnish

-boiled eggs
-cilantro
-sliced shallot
-red pepper flakes
-lemon juice

Direction

Cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Finely chop onion and garlic.  Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat then sauteed onion and garlic mixture until they become translucent.  Put paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper into the pot and stir until fragrant.  Put chicken and cook for about five minutes.  Put a tbsp of fish sauce and mix with the chicken.  Stir in coconut milk and evaporated milk and cook for three minutes or so.  You can really smell the coconut just about now and it is like heaven.  Then pour in chicken broth and fish sauce and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cover your pot and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Season to taste.  When you are ready to eat, put the cooked egg noodle into a bowl and pour the soup over it.  Then garnish it with sliced boiled egg, cilantro, shallot, chili flaked and squeeze some lemon juice and enjoy!


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30 comments:

  1. Victoria I love this soup as John and I love Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese you name the Asian country I will tell you my favorite dishes and how it emotionally made me feel. You today with making your soup and today I made Italian wedding soup. I read the beautiful words you wrote to express your emotional bond and love of Burma and how living in America has embraced your life but the bonds of family and childhood memories have spiritually enriched the essence of who you are. I am so appreciative to this share and how you expressed yourself I feel happiness just from reading today's post. Your recipe, you bet I'm going to make it... Shopping tomorrow for the ingredients.
    Often times in our fast paced everyday we do not pause to appreciate the comfort and importance of sitting down and eating a home cooked meal and holding onto precious traditions. Thank you Victoria for sharing and posting this.
    Sending love,
    Vera


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    1. Do you have any good Burmese restaurant where you are, Vera? We have one about two hours away and I try to go every time I am in the city. I would love to hear what you think of the soup.

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  2. I LOVED reading this and LOVE your soup. I'm so glad you shared it on the blog. x

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    1. Thank you, Dani. It certainly took me long enough to write this post. : )

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  3. Victoria, I think smells of food trigger memories for many. My husband was just a toddler when he live in Japan with his family after WWII. He has vivid memories of sweet potatoes. A trip to Hawaiian food market sparked those memories when he came upon the distinct smell of a Japanese sweet potato. He'd not experienced that since childhood, and memories immediately flooded his mind.
    Beautiful post!

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    1. You are right, Sarah. Smell definitely trigger a lot of old memories.

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  4. I didn't know anything of your past and heritage and I loved reading about your experiences, especially with food. When we travel, tasting local food and cuisine is #! on our list. So I thank you for the wonderful memories you have shared and your recipe which I will PIN and surely make. May I ask what size can of coconut milk I should use? Thank you!

    Jane x

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    1. Hi Jane, I usually use the regular tin can of coconut milk. I think there is only one size. You can find it under the asian food section.

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  5. Victoria,
    It is amazing how food and certain smells can trigger so many wonderful memories. Glad you gave us this great recipe for soup. I am going to try this. Thank you sweet friend for sharing with all of us.
    Kris

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    1. Thank you, Kris. I hope you like the soup. I am loving all of your projects! You are one busy lady!

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  6. Oh Victoria, I so wish I could comfort your memories some how.
    I too have similar thoughts of a once apon a time, the scents of certain foods we relate to our past and the family tied to it. I often envision myself at the breakfast nook with my grandmother cooking up breakfast and at the same time asking us kids what we want to eat for lunch, and any ideas on what she should cook for dinner? I guess family is never to far from our memories.
    Your post kind of choked me up. It made me a bit sad for you and your longing for the home and family that rests in your heart and memories.
    Would you ever move back home? ....That is if it were an easy transition to do so?

    The soup looks wonderful, and we love Asian, Philippino, Chinese, Japanese, food, foods from Burma I will have to look into, research the culture in how the foods are prepared, and ingredients. You my dear have added another food interest to my meal planning.

    I will screan shot your recipe here and take a weekend and try this soup, we love cocnut, we will put it on almost anything.

    If it's any comfort to you, you have a blog family that love and adore you, and look at all the new memories you are making here sharing and inspiring us.

    Beautiful weekend to you and your girls.

    Xx
    Dore

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    1. Oh Dore, Thank you so much. You are make me feel so loved and cared for. I really appreciate your kind words. I don't know if I will ever be able to move back home because of the girls, you know? I am taking them back home in July this summer for three weeks. We are all really excited about it.

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  7. What a beautiful post Victoria! I can relate to this as I was born in England, I was only 8 when we left but sometimes a certain sense triggers my memory and I get a deep sense of missing it. For me, it's not really food because, let me tell you, back in the 70's, English food was horrible (I know it's evolved since then!) but the humidity and damp air we get here in FL and the sound of raindrops...sigh!

    Anyway, your soup looks delicious and your food pics are as stunning as all your other pics! Going to Pin this to my food board:) Oh, and thank you for following me on my new IG account! Decided it was time to finally make my own and stop hogging up my husband's:)

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    1. I have to tell you Victoria. I love fish and chips!! It is hard to find a really good fish and chips around here.

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  8. My family is all about mealtime too, especially when they're on holiday. What's for breakfast? What's for lunch? What's for dinner? Makes me laugh! I loved reading your beautiful story, and your photos are gorgeous.
    Sally

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    1. Thank you, Sally. My friends always joke that I live according to my cravings.

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  9. This looks like a wonderful recipe! I love all Asian foods, not familiar with Burmese, but I know I'll love it too. Thank you so much for sharing part of your personal life. . .reading about your family brought a tear to my eye. So very special. . .

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    1. Thank you, Cynthia. Indian and Malaysian are my favorite. I find that cooking authentic Indian food is the hardest for me. It never tastes like the restaurant.

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  10. Beautifully written and can feel your deep feeling of being homesick. I think a lot of us feel that way when our mothers aren't around for various reasons. I will have to share your recipe! Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Janet. I do agree about the sadness we feel when our mothers aren't around.

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  11. Victoria….thank you for sharing your heritage. I made this soup today and it is heavenly. This will sure be a repeat soup recipe for me. I also love your blog and all the interesting things you post about. Oh, and did I mention, your girls are darling.

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  12. I still can't comment on Facebook. I suspect a conspiracy!
    Thanks for your comments! xo
    This post made me cry. Your beautiful girls will remember this and pass it on.
    I am sharing this with Gracie for homeschool!

    xo

    Andie

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    1. Hello my dear Andie! Good to hear from you! I hope you and Gracie try this soup together!

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  13. One of my favorite posts! I love culture. So I love hearing you share your childhood memories so passionately. I love hearing about your Mom and Aunts all cooking together. You are so very very blessed to have grown up with such closeness with the women in your family. I can understand a little bit better where your strength comes from. And your Grandmother...love her passion for food and cooking and eating and giving. Now you carry their hearts on by cooking with your daughters. I love all the photos of the fresh produce markets. That is something I looked forward to when I was preparing to go to Africa with the Peace Corps.

    Victoria I also wanted you to know that I had to wait a long time to find solitude. I have four children that I home schooled for 15 yrs so I never had a moment to myself, except when everyone was asleep. So do not worry about it...your time to find quiet will come later. I longed for it during those mothering years and now it has come. I have so much time for quiet and peace now. It has actually been restorative because the teenage years were stressful. I have some very wild and free kids... extremely artistic. You are a single Mom so you can only do so much. Gardening is a wonderful activity to calm the soul...so its good you love to garden.

    Have a beautiful weekend xo

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    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment, Kerrie. I have a huge close knit family back home. So it is definitely strange being just the three of us here. Oh and I am terrified for teenage years!

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  14. Memories. Bittersweet. Joy and sadness in the same place at the same time in our hearts. And what we feel our mothers and all our mothers before us have felt. Thank you for sharing a little of your family and for this delightful recipe. I went directly to store and so enjoyed making this soup. I used rice noodles as I like their lightness compared to other noodles. So wonderful! I am now dreaming of making it with shrimp or with just broccoli. Very easy to make too. Thank you again. Karen in NC

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    1. I have never tried it with shrimp before. That sounds lovely. Sometimes I have jasmine rice with the soup if I don't have any noodle. I am so happy you enjoyed the soup.

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  15. Victoria, the soup was amazing! It's definitely something to go on my recipe box. Thank you so my for sharing!

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