One of my favorite dishes in Thailand is a bit touchy to make. Here’s my take on it, based on a mix of a friend’s mum’s recipe (thanks Aaron) and some recipes online.

The Kao Soi what I made


Serves 2-4 pending appetite.


  • 5 x Coconut Milk – the tinned kind. Coconut Cream for extra thickness. I prefer it thick.
  • Dark soy and Light soy sauce. Alt = Liquid Aminos + Red Miso.
  • 2-3 x limes (to taste)
  • Peanut oil
  • 5 Chilis
  • 2 x Shallots
  • 4 x Garlic cloves
  • Coriander Seed
  • Cardamon pods
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Turmeric 2 x tsp (grated ideal, powdered ok)
  • Ginger (grated ideal, powdered ok)
  • Rice Noodles

A-2. THE MEATY BITS (mix, match or isolate as much of these you like)

  1. Chunky Mushrooms – leave them to soak for an hour in warm water to release the flavor.
  2. Tempeh – Chop into pieces. Fry in 2 tsps of peanut oil until you smell the flavors. You’ll be throwing them in the soup later so you don’t want to over cook them.
  3. Fried onion – Fry chopped slices of onion in peanut oil, again until you smell the flavors. Add a pinch of cinnamon
  4. Tofu – I’d get the tofu with the skin that can get crispy. The soft stuff isn’t as fun for me, but if you get it, soak in soy sauce (or equivalent) for an hour, then chuck it in some peanut oil and fry to when the smell gets good.
  5. Soft Pumpkin – Chop it into chunks. The asian variety of pumpkin (with green skin) is the ideal, but if you can’t get that, a Sweet Potato softened and chopped into cubes is tasty.
  6. Carrots – Yeah you can chop these and through them in the boil too. Slice them thin and small. Makes it easier to manage in the soup-eating chaos.


You’ll be using these…:

  • 5 Chilis
  • 2 x Shallots
  • 4 x Garlic cloves
  • Coriander Seed (2tsp)
  • Cardamon (1 tsp)
  • Black Pepper (1tsp)
  • Turmeric (2 tsp)
  • Ginger (2 x tsp / 2 slices)
  • Optional : Lime zest from 2 limes
  1. Lay items on a foil sheet that will fold around items laid in a 12cm by 12cm square (or larger if you want to space them out more). So maybe an A4 size foil sheet.
  2. Chop all the large items into slices, save for the chilis.
  3. Once all items are chopped, arrange them on the foil before folding it up.
  4. Grab another foil sheet of the same size and wrap over it again.
  5. Put on a stove (low flame or heat)
  6. Toast items for 2-10 minutes, pending your stove size and heat.
  7. Key is to undercook, not over-cook. If they burn, the flavor is fucked. A little char is ok, but like 5% of the whole thing.
  8. In my experience with a gas stove, 4 minutes seems optimal. 10 tends to burn. If it’s too burned, you’ll end up with too much smokiness in the flavor and it will lose the buttery aspect of it. The color of the soup will also become green rather than yellow.
  9. Once it’s been off the stove for a minute or so, unfold the foil and put the roasted bits (avoid the charcoal bits if any) in a mortar and pestle.
  10. Add a pinch of salt.
  11. Ground it in a mortar and pestle until it’s a paste. Let it sit until the broth is rolling.


  1. Boil water and put a tsp of peanut oil and salt in there. Throw in some rice noodles or whatever noodles you want really – long as they have a flatness to them. Rice noodles seem to work best.
  2. Put them aside when done.
  3. In a separate flat-pan, put a TBSP of peanut oil and FRY a handful of the finished rice noodles. These are for the crispy noodles you put on top. They’re great. You might feel the urge to go nuts with these; be warned – they are delicious and addictive.
  4. Put the fried noodles aside.


  1. Start with only 2 tins of the 5 coconut and pour them into a pan. This is so the curry paste can fuse with a smaller surface area of liquid.
  2. Throw in the curry paste.
  3. Stir it until it breaks into dissolved excellence. The color should be yellow, but you haven’t failed if it’s green and still delicious.
  4. Throw in the “meat”, put on low heat and stir slowly.


  1. Take 3 tins and put them in.
  2. Now add 2 caps of Light Soy and Dark soy / 3 caps of Liquid Aminos plus Red Miso (1 tbsp).
  3. Stir them slow.
  4. Once it feels right and is 2 minutes from being ready to serve, throw in the juice of 2-3 limes. Try 2, taste, and, throw in the juice of the 3rd.


  1. Throw the broth in the soup.
  2. Stir them and weep a tear or few of joy.
  3. Throw in the previously boiled noodles.
  4. Do this for a minute or few.
  5. When it smells right, putting it in a serving bowl.
  6. When someone serves themselves the goodness, add the fried noodles on top like a garnish, even though they’re tastier than the main noodles.


Some people add chopped boiled yam, carrot and potato to the Kao Soi. I can’t be bothered, but it is tasty when I’ve had it. Thai Pumpkin – if you can find it – is an essential add.