From the royal house of the Thongthaem dynasty, this recipe is an unusual and intriguing version of a fermented rice noodle light meal, featuring a light reddish sauce thickened with pounded chicken meat braised in coconut cream and milk, as well as shrimp meat and beans. It is seasoned with chili jam and served with crunchy fresh cucumber and crisp piquant slices of radish and topped with crispy fried garlic and dried chilies fried in coconut cream and butter.
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The recipe is adapted from the 1936 memorial book for Princess Maao Thongthaem (เม้า ทองแถม), (1857-1935), the first cousin of King Rama V and the first wife of Prince Thongthaem Thavalyawongse (1857-1919), the thirty-fourth son of King Rama IV.
The memorial book, Snacks and Dainty Bites Recipes for Siamese and Western-Style Afternoon Tea (ตำราอาหารว่าง เลี้ยงของว่างอย่างไทย เลี้ยงน้ำชาอย่างฝรั่ง), was compiled by her daughter Princess Thongderm (หม่อมเจ้าทองเติม ทองแถม) and printed one year after Princess Maao’s death in 1935.
Princess Maao and her stepdaughter Princess Khruamatwimon (หม่อมเจ้าหญิงเครือมาศวิมล ทองแถม), whose “white tasty beef curry” recipe was previously featured on Thaifoodmaster, were both known for their exceptional culinary skills; Princess Maao’s tribute book includes recipes that spectacularly showcase the family’s own culinary style, as well as meals creatively crafted as one-of-a-kind recipes, such as this sensational dish called Arabian noodles (ขนมจีนอาหรับ ; khanohm jeen aarap).
While this dish shares similar culinary motifs with other Siamese dishes, including khanohm jeen naam phrik (ขนมจีนน้ำพริกกุ้ง) and the ancient khanohm jeen khaaek (ขนมจีนแขก), Princess Maao Thongthaem offers an exciting and a somewhat different take on both recipes in a single dish she dubbed “Arabian Noodles”.
Princess Maao begins by cooking the chicken in a blend of coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Once the chicken is cooked, she removes it from the broth, and continues to prepare a thickening paste. For the thickening paste, Princess Maao pounds green snap beans, crispy fried shallots, and crispy fried galangal into a smooth paste. Then, she enriches the paste with shrimp meat and the braised chicken meat before diluting the paste with the chicken cooking liquids. After the paste reaches the desired consistency, she places it back on the heat to simmer until the shrimp meat is cooked and the beans lose their harsh odor of green leaves.
For seasoning she uses chili jam, fish sauce, and lime juice, which are mixed and seasoned to a sour-salty profile. Only a small amount of sugar, or no sugar at all, is required, as the broth is already sweet from the sweetened condensed milk and coconut cream.
After the dish is properly seasoned, Princess Maao prepares a red aromatic oil by frying thinly sliced garlic and hair-thin juliennes of dried chilies in coconut cream fat and butter. Once the garlic crisps up and the butter melts, she pours it over the chicken broth to decorate the dish’s surface with beautiful streaks of oils.
Finally, she serves the dish alongside batter-fried vegetables, fried fish cakes (ทอดมัน), haaw mohk (ห่อหมก), cooling slices of cucumber, crispy water chestnuts and crisp, piquant slices of radish. These dishes, which are served around Siamese-style fermented rice noodle dishes, are known as meuuat khanohm jeen (เหมือดขนมจีน)
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To braise the chicken:
- 100 g chicken breast (อกไก่)
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (นมข้นจืด)
- 1 cup coconut middle cream (กลางกะทิ)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (นมข้นหวาน)
For the paste:
- 2 tablespoons snap beans (ถั่วแขก)
- 3 tablespoons crispy fried shallots (หอมแดงเจียว)
- 1 tablespoon crispy fried galangal (ข่าเจียว)
- 1/3 cup shrimp meat (เนื้อกุ้ง)
- 1/2 tablespoon shrimp tomalley (มันกุ้ง)
- 1 1/2 part chili jam (น้ำพริกเผา)
- 1 part fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 3/4 parts lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
Fried topping elements:
- 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon dried red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแห้ง) sliced into hair-thin juliennes
- 1 cup coconut cream cooked into coconut fat (น้ำมันขี้โล้) strained
- 1 tablespoon butter (เนย)
Serve with: (เหมือดขนมจีน; meuuat khanohm jeen)
- fermented rice noodles (khanohm jeen) (ขนมจีน)
- radish (ผักกาดแดง)
- cucumber (แตงกวา)
- water chestnuts (แห้ว)
- In a pot, combine thick coconut with the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.
- Add salt and bring the liquids to a simmer.
- Add the chicken and simmer on low heat.
- Once cooked, remove the chicken from the broth and pull the chicken meat into thin threads while still warm. Set aside the chicken meat and the broth separately.
Prepare the chili jam:
- Prepare the chili jam as described here, or use the ancient roasted chili jam version (น้ำพริกเผาโบราณ; naam phrik phao bo:h raan).
Prepare the thickening paste:
- In a pestle and mortar, pound beans to a fine paste.
- Add the crispy fried shallots and crispy fried galangal and pound to a smooth paste.
- Add the shrimp meat, shrimp tomalley and the braised chicken meat; continue to pound until the paste is smooth.
Cook and season the broth:
- Transfer the thickening paste into a pot and dilute it with the remaining chicken cooking liquids until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Over low heat, simmer the broth until the shrimp are cooked and the beans no longer taste and smell raw.
- Turn off the heat before seasoning with chili jam, palm sugar and fish sauce and lime juice to a sour-sweet and salty profile.
Prepare the fried toppings:
- In a pan, cook coconut cream until it separates into fat.
- Strain and discard the white coagulate that forms after heating the coconut oil.
- Fry thinly sliced garlic in the coconut oil.
- Add hair-thin julienned dried red long chilies just before the garlic turns golden.
- Add a knob of butter and turn off the heat as soon as it melts.
- Pour the garlic-chili-butter oil over the seasoned chicken broth.
How to serve the dish:
- Place a portion of the fermented rice noodles in a serving bowl.
- Using a ladle, pour the chicken coconut broth over the noodles.
- Serve the dish alongside batter-fried vegetables, fried fish cakes (ทอดมัน), haaw mohk (ห่อหมก), slices of cucumber, water chestnuts and thin slices of radish.
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