Chef Josh Venne’s Journey from Scallion Pancakes to World Travel

Chef Josh Venne’s Journey from Scallion Pancakes to World Travel

We first met Chef Josh Venne a few years ago when he was touring the world. He made a stopover in Bangkok (one of his favorite cities) and reached out to us. His passion for service, culture, and food deeply aligned with our mission, and naturally he dove right in the kitchen and instantly became part of our Courageous Kitchen family.

We wanted you to get to know him, and asked him to share his story with us. In the interview below he gets candid, reminding us why it’s so important for us to share stories of overcoming struggle with our young leaders. Journeys from tragedy into triumph like Josh’s, inspire us, and give much needed hope to our students. 

Read below to learn more about Chef Josh and see why he exemplifies courage in every way!

Q: I love how you’re making a name for yourself in an unconventional way. How long did it take you to get to this point?

So glad to hear it! I started cooking around the age of five for my siblings, and used it as a great stress reliever. I was interested in food very early and essentially wanted to be able to cook and eat every thing possible. When I was 15 I realized I wanted to pursue a career in food which was actually quite lucky. Some people take a lot longer so I was able to focus early and get lots of experience. Since then I have worked in some 25+ kitchens in five states in the USA. I have also traveled to 40+ countries for food research, and that’s really given me a huge base of experience and probably given me a good deal of an edge on my competition in the USA.

Many people are becoming more and more familiar with obscure cuisines. Take Thai food for example, there is so much more to it than just curries and papaya salad. Although I love the mainstays such as those, the more people learn about different cuisines and culture, the more I can cook things out of their normal comfort zone.

Q: What got you interested in food and sharing it with others, and when did you realize you had a knack for it?

I am heavily self-taught but I also graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, highly regarded as the best culinary school in the USA and one of the best in the world. However class learning is no replacement for experience, so I believe I have a good collection of both.

“It gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction that not much else did.”

When I was younger, often times I would be forced to cook for myself and sometimes my siblings out of necessity. I would let friends try my items and got a great sense of pleasure from that. I also starting working at a pizza place in my young teenage years so that was a great source of pleasure as well. We wouldn’t cook much from scratch, but sometimes when we would run out of things made not in house, for example alfredo sauce, I remember making it from scratch, and completely baffling co-workers. After an especially stressful day at home, I would make large batches of things like Shepard’s pie and Bolognese. It was always way too much so I would gift it to friends. I realized I had a special gift to be able to not only taste items and make them my own, but that I also needed to share my gift with as many people as I could. It gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction that not much else did. 

Q: As a first-gen Lao American, I never wanted to embrace my Asian identity until I was much older. Have you always been a proud Asian American, or has it been a slow realization?

My mother was born in Korea, and had a pretty horrific childhood that plagued her entire life, and ultimately led to her death when I was 17, of a heroin overdose. She just couldn’t escape the darkness that followed her. She was adopted around age 8 I believe, to a single Irish woman who taught English in Massachusetts. My father was born in the USA to a German immigrant. Some of his siblings were born in the USA, and some in Germany.

I wouldn’t say I proudly identify as either German or Korean, but as an amalgamation of the both. Culturally I grew up in German influenced Massachusetts, with a little Irish culture peppered in. Korean culture wasn’t present because as my mom left when she was so young. We would occasionally go to the Korean market and get lots of panchan kimchee, and spicy marinated shiso leaves (my favorite), but that’s about it. Traveling around the world, and especially Asia, was certainly influenced by that.

But mostly I grew up eating American food with Massachusetts and German influence. Pasta, potatoes with kielbasa, schnitzel, German potato salad, sauerbraten, etc. The biggest influence is probably coastal Massachusetts. So I often cook seafood, lobster boils, and Portuguese influenced stews. Korean and German food make their way into my cuisine but not super often.

Q: Courageous Kitchen works with several refugee youth providing food education and teaching basic nutrition skills. What advice can you give to some of our students who may be in a situation similar to what your family experienced?

“Positivity breeds opportunity.”

Just keep pushing forward. Focus on the positive and try to ignore the negative. Positivity breeds opportunity. No one wants to take a chance on someone being negative and sad. Try to do things that advance your life, career, and display the positive parts of your day and feelings. It will help if you surround yourself with other positive people and never look back.

Q: Can you tell me what being courageous means to you?

Being courageous means to be brave in the face of danger and opposition. Life will only get harder, so I like to face the hardships head on to conquer them. Being courageous means getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that can be frightening. It also means going against the grain even if people don’t like it or approve. It also means being somewhat selfish at times.

For example, some people may not appreciate being served fish or other meat with the head still on. I will do whatever is needed to keep a dish enjoyable and authentic. It may not be well received by the majority, but if it is true to what makes the dish memorable for me, I do it. This keeps me innovating and pushing to educate and help people explore culture through cuisine.

Q: What have been the highlight moments of your culinary career? Alternatively, what have been the most challenging?

Catering my first solo wedding when I was 21, I was faced with every possible obstacle. The presents got stolen, the power went out, we were missing tons of ingredients, guests stole someone else’s plate while they were in the restroom, etc. but I still made it happen.

Taking my first solo trip to Taiwan was eye-opening. I realized I didn’t need a friend to travel with, and since then I’ve been to over 40 countries. So my highlight would be the opportunity to taste awesome food I would have never been able to try in the USA. And, of course, the weird stuff, like dog, eggs fermented in horse urine, bats, tarantulas, etc.

Q: I know you’ve got a lot going on —  i.e. private events, catering, traveling and cooking classes in the mix. What’s next for you?

Right now I am trying to secure a job in the private chef sector. Restaurant work in amazing and fun but not financially rewarding. I’m ready to stay somewhat permanent for a bit and chip away at my student loan debt. In five years I’d love to be debt free, and starting to save to open my own restaurant. I’d like to focus on fast casual so more people can enjoy my food rather than fine dining. I’d also liked to be married or almost married with kids in the near future.

Q: Can you share your favorite recipe with our readers?

This is tricky, but I will share my scallion pancake recipe that really carried The Beacon Bite, the food trailer I previously co-owned in Beacon, NY. It is a yeast risen pancake that acted as a vehicle for our Korean marinated pork wrap.

  • All purpose flour, one part
  • Bread flour, three parts
  • Water, warm 1 part (by weight)
  • Salt, 1 pinch
  • Yeast, 1 tsp per cup of flour
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Sauce made of soy, sesame oil, mirin, rice wine

Mix the yeast in the warm water. Mix the flour with salt in a mixer or by hand. Pour in the water and mix gradually. If it needs a little water or flour to adjust consistency, add it. The dough should be homogenous and slightly sticky. Work the dough until the gluten is well developed and the dough bounces back almost fully when you stick your finger in.

Portion the dough into dough balls 3-6 ounces as desired. Roll nicely and rest on sheet tray while you cut the scallions and make the sauce.

Roll the dough ball into a kind-of flat circle, using a rolling pin and as little flour as possible. Brush the sauce on the entire surface facing you, and sprinkle lightly with scallions. Roll the dough up tight, into a long snake. Then coil the dough onto itself and squish it together. The last tip may need a pinky finger full of sauce to stick. Flatten the dough out with your hand and roll again into a perfect circle again using as little flour as possible. They may need to rest a bit before to let the gluten relax.

Cook the pancake on a flattop or pan with a little cooking oil. Enjoy with the sauce you made for dipping, or stuff as a wrap with meat, vegetables, mayo, etc. At the Beacon Bite we did a spicy gochujang marinated pork shoulder with sesame carrot slaw and toasted chili mayo.


We are grateful to call Chef Josh Venne a good friend, and thankful to him for sharing, and serving our community with his whole heart. His love of adventure shines through in his cooking, his infectious smile, and his zest for life.

To connect with Chef Josh, find him on instagram as @jawshey

Interview by Christy Innouvong

5 Stunning Thai Dishes to Request in Our Bangkok Cooking Class!

5 Stunning Thai Dishes to Request in Our Bangkok Cooking Class!

The hallmark of our cooking class is that when you attend one of our small morning classes in Bangkok (with usually no more than 6 people), you will have an opportunity to request dishes you love. After you book your class, we’ll email you with a few options to help narrow down the style of Thai cooking you would most prefer. Then we meet you in Bangkok, take you to the local market for a fun wander around, and finally back to our home to teach you the dishes you’ve requested.

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We do often have guests who may be new to Thai food, or need some inspiration to help you decide what to request. Although we’re happy to pick for you (just let us know what allergies you have and your preferred spice level), we though we’d share photos from recent classes where guests have been really please with both the taste and presentation of our Thai dishes. So here’s a few dishes for you to feast your eyes on from our classes, enjoy and we hope to be cooking them with more of you in 2018!

  1. Pineapple Curry Fried Rice with Seafood

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A few months back we published a spicy red curry with pineapple recipe, after making it as a special request for guests! If you enjoy red curry, you’ll love the fried rice version which isn’t too difficult to make. Our version of red curry fried rice gains sourness and punchiness from the fresh pineapple, but in our cooking class in Bangkok, you will serve it in the pineapple you’ve carved out yourself. We can’t think of a better serving bowl to represent this tropical, full flavored, and hearty fried rice!

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2. Egg Wrapped Pad Thai Noodle with Homemade Tamarind Sauce

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In the West, Thailand’s most famous dish is undoubtedly stir fried pad thai noodles. While it’s a starter Thai dish to many, often guests have more fun cooking a cuisine when they have a familiar dish like pad thai on the menu. So to keep this interesting for everyone, you’ll notice that in the Courageous Kitchen classes we put a local spin on the version of pad thai we make. While we can make the more typical presentation, where your egg is fried in the noodles, we love to teach guests to enshrine their pad thai in a fresh egg wrapper. This isn’t only super tasty, it’s more eye catching too! When you serve it, we’re sure your friends and family will wonder what deliciousness hides in this well garnished egg package.

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3. Stir Fried and Drunken Pad Kee Mow Noodles

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This dish isn’t for everyone, but has been popular with visiting spice lovers. While many people complain the food in Thailand is too spicy, there are still folks arriving who want all the chili filled food they can handle during their stay in Thailand. So if you’re a chili enthusiast, or love someone who is— then you’ve got to make them a smoking hot plate of pad kee mow. While the name of the dish sounds foreign, you may literally translate it as “a drunk’s noodles”, or more commonly, “drunken noodles.” Why is this dish well loved by Thailand’s hedonists? Because the mix of hot chilis with numbing spice from the handfuls of finger-root and fresh peppercorn are intense enough to bring you back to life after a big night out!

4. Shrimp Filled Tom Yum Goong Soup

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While pad thai reigns in the West, in Asia Thailand’s most famous culinary export is tom yum soup. The dish has headlined in famous movies domestically and internationally, and generous portions of seafood included in the soup make it hard to overlook! So seafood lovers get those spoons ready and prepare to tilt a bowl of easy to make tom yum soup up, to get all the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and galangal flavors from the broth. If you’re curious about how we teach this dish to students in our project, and visiting tourists, check out our recent video recipe for tom yum with chicken.

5. Sticky Rice Bua Loy Dumplings in Warm, Fragrant Coconut Milk

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Finally, here’s a dish for your sweet-tooth that is more than capable of cooling you off after eating too much spice. To make this traditional dessert, we spend some time together first squeezing and kneading the dough together. In seperate batches we’ll add an all natural food coloring such as pandan leaf (green), pumpkin (orange), or butterfly pea (blue), to give a vibrant color to the dough. Finally, before boiling the dumplings we do the painstaking work of rolling them in to pea sized balls, which is more difficult than it looks or sounds. Making this dish is especially popular in our new evening cooking class in Bangkok. This new class is aimed at families who prefer to make recipes that their kids can get involved with too!

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We hope these photos and descriptions give you an idea of what we’re up to in our cooking class in Bangkok! Our class is officially a year old and we’ve had so much fun teaching you these dishes and learning from your feedback. All of our students are provided a digital cook book after the class, so we hope you can make our most popular recipes at home. Every cooking class is unique though, so we’re also hoping to create a larger cook book to share with everyone later in the year.

Thank you for following and supporting Courageous Kitchen this past year, happy eating!

Note: Are you may know, we are a nonprofit project and not a cooking school. While we try to honor all requests made for our class, the guests who book in advance have the best chance of cooking dishes they want to make!

How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Video)

How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Video)

Today we’d like to share a simple and delicious recipe with all of our supporters. If you watch the video below you catch our students making a big pot of the spicy, satisfying tom yum soup with chicken. Then continue to read below for all the details on how to make this recipe at home. We’ve even included a few frequently asked questions at the bottom, to be sure you’re confident when cooking this homestyle soup for your friends and family.

Remember you can donate to support our efforts to educate and train more at risk youth.

Tom Yum Recipe Video:

Chicken Tom Yum Recipe (Tom Yum Gai)

This recipe serves 1-2 people, but if you have all your aromatics on hand, it’s easy to make a much larger pot like the one seen in recipe video above. Preparation time is typically 15-20 minutes, while your cooking time can be as quick as 10 minutes.

Primary Aromatics:
3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5-6 Galangal Large Slices
1 Lemongrass Stalk

Seasoning:
2-3 Tbsp of fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2-3 Tsp of palm sugar
1-2 Tbsp of Thai chili jam

Other Ingredients:
500ml of Water
4-6 Oyster Mushrooms
2-3 Bird’s eye chili
1/2 Beef tomato quartered
1/4 of a roughly chopped white onion
100g of sliced chicken breast
5-6 Cilantro leaves for garnish

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Preparation:

1. Prepare your aromatics. Smack your kaffir lime and tear it, being carful not to remove the leaves from the stem. Pound your lemongrass stalk and tie it in a knot. Cut your galangal root into large slices. For the best final result you want to keep these aromatics large and easily visible (avoid chopping small), because although they are used for their aroma and flavor, they are not typically consumed with the rest of the soup.

2. Roughly chop 2-3 chilies for an average level of spicy. You can chop the chili more finely or add more if you prefer your soup extra spicy.

3. Cut your lime in sections by moving your knife around the core. This will help you remove the seeds more easily. You can also tilt your knife down into a bowl and use the blunt side of your knife for squeezing the lime without making it too messy.

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Cooking Instructions:

1. Bring your water to a boil in small pot and immediately add your aromatics. Cook a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Add your chicken breast and after it cooks, your onion, tomato, chili, and mushrooms.
3. Let the soup lightly boil uncovered as the vegetables soften, while adding your fish sauce, chili jam, and palm sugar.
4. Taste your soup for saltiness and sweetness.
5. If you are satisfied, remove from heat and add lime juice (remember adding lime too soon can cause the juice to become bitter).
6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.
7. Remember you can remove the hard to eat aromatics (galangal slices, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves) before serving or remind guests not to eat them.

Frequently Asked Tom Yum Recipe Questions:

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1. Why don’t you add coconut milk to your tom yum soup?

CK: Tom yum has a sibling soup called ‘tom kha’ which is made with coconut milk. The creamy coconut milk is a good match for the spice and a better menu option for people sensitive to the heat from Thai chilies. The confusion comes because some restaurants do a version of tom yum called ‘nam khon’ where they top the soup of with evaporated milk. This is especially common in Bangkok and at wester restaurants abroad. The milk adds a creaminess to the soup without changing the flavor like the coconut milk can, however, many people mistake this for coconut milk.

2. Can I use other mushrooms or forego the chicken altogether?

CK: If you would prefer to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can! The meaty, buttery mushrooms work best. For example, we often mix oyster mushroom with straw, shimeji, and even the small stringy enoki mushrooms. In general most mushrooms will work, however, you may want to limit your portion if you’re using really bulky mushrooms, such as portobello. To completely make this recipe vegetarian you should substitute white salt for fish sauce, and buy or make a vegetarian chili jam.

3. What is the Thai chili jam (nam prik pow) used in the recipe?

CK: An essential ingredient in tom yum, Thai chili jam is not an ingredient many people are familiar with using. The jam is typically made by reducing dried chili with fish sauce, palm sugar, and shallots. A litany of other ingredients are added in homemade recipes and they tend to be more intensely spicy, and less sweet than the ones commonly sold in Asian supermarkets. We often make our own veg and vegan versions for our cooking class guests with special dietary needs.

Pineapple Curry Recipe from our Bangkok Cooking Class

Pineapple Curry Recipe from our Bangkok Cooking Class

We love the people we get to meet in our Bangkok cooking classes. We limit the class size to less than 6, so over a few hours the personalities of all of our visitors start to come out, as do ours. While we welcome many newcomers to Thailand, we also occasionally have guests who are returning visitors, or looking for a cooking class in Bangkok that will allow them to pick and choose a custom set of recipes to try. Sometimes the recipes are Thai dishes our guests love to eat, but often the requests are a special dish to challenge their cooking skills, or knowledge of Thai cuisine.

All of the food tasted surprisingly great considering the simplicity of the dishes. They were also very accommodating of our recipe requests, and in most cases, added a little bit of a twist to our request in a way that allowed us to experience a new dimension of Thai food. Highly recommend!

– Brian, Courageous Kitchen Guest
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In a recent class we were joined by two spice loving guests, Brian and Min. The couple of Thai food lovers requested a spicy seafood curry, so our team quickly began to brainstorm what would be best to teach them. The day before their class we experimented with a Thai dish called ‘gaeng kua‘ in our kitchen for the first time. The name may not be very well known, but if you’ve ever had a Thai red curry with pineapple, then you’ve likely had a variation of this dish. The most popular version of this in the US, is often served with large chunks of barbecued duck.

Fortunately, the dish is much easier to make than pronounce. You need to make or buy a quality red curry paste for the best result, but beyond the typical Thai seasonings, the recipe below does not require many exotic ingredients. Try your hand at making this noticeable spicy seafood curry. We love it with squid, mussels, and shrimp, but encourage you to try it with the protein of your choice.

Pineapple and Seafood Red Curry Recipe

Pronounced Gaeng Kua Sapparot Talay in Thai or แกงคั่วสับปะรดทะเล

This recipe serves 1-2 people.

Erin shows off her finished pineapple fried rice, a variation of this recipe with seafood and red curry paste.

Ingredients:

  • 400ml Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Red curry paste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Palm Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind juice
  • 100g Seafood (squid, shrimp, or mussels)
  • 50g-100g Pineapple (Sliced thin and about 3-5 cm long)

Garnish:

  • 1 large mild chili (Serrano or similar)
  • 1 small handful Thai sweet basil leaves
This Thai curry is delicious with shrimp, but you can add any or all of your favorite seafood to this delicious curry.

Directions:
1. Heat up the wok and add coconut milk over medium heat.
2. When the coconut milk bubbles, add your curry paste. Stir until it mixes well.
3. Add pineapple, cook 2-3 minutes.
4. Now taste for the sweetness/sourness of the pineapple. Add your seasoning to taste. (Note: You can leave out the tamarind if the pineapple is already very sour.)
5. After adjusting the flavor, add your seafood and additional coconut milk if needed.
6. Remove from heat after your seafood is cooked, garnish with Thai sweet basil, and slices of large mild chili.

Download more delicious thai recipes from courageous kitchen!

Thanks for reading! If you found this recipe useful, download more of our Courageous Recipes!

Quick and Painless Pad Thai Recipe

Quick and Painless Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai is Thailand’s most recognizable dish and one of our most popular cooking requests! Below you can find a version adapted to allow you to recreate this delicious recipe at home. You can catch us cooking pad thai in our cooking class in Bangkok, but we mastered it teaching our Courageous Kitchen students. In the video you’ll see them in action, working in teams to prepare the dish after we’ve demonstrated it. Each week they learn a fun Thai recipe or international dish thanks to your support!

Watch the children we help learn to make this classic Thai dish:

Pad Thai Recipe สูตรผัดไท

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. dry or fresh rice noodles, at least ¼ inch in thickness
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut or rice bran oil for frying
  • 8 oz. pack of extra firm tofu cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 bundle fresh scallions or garlic chives chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced garlic

Pad Thai Sauce Recipe:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup diced shallots
  • ¾  cup fresh tamarind pulp
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3-4 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • pinch of white pepper and dried chili flakes to taste
  • pinch of paprika for color
  • Optional Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. protein of choice
  • ⅓ cup small dried shrimp
  • 3 limes cut into wedges
  • Crushed unsalted peanuts
  • Dried red chili flakes
  • Extra bean sprouts, garlic chives, banana blossom for garnish

Preparation:

Fully submerge and soak dry noodles in cold water for 20 minutes. If using fresh noodles, soak for 10 minutes. Once noodles are al dente, strain and set aside. If soaked too long, noodles will become gummy to the touch. Prep additional ingredients mise en place*.

Pad Thai is traditionally cooked very quickly over high heat, so laying out all ready ingredients is essential for a quality dish.

*Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up, i.e. wash and chop all ingredients prior to cooking.

Directions:

Heat large wok on high. Add 1 tbsp oil, shallots, meat, dried shrimp and 2 oz. tofu. Cook for approximately 3 minutes until browned and protein is cooked all the way through, remove meat and set aside. Add in ½ tbsp garlic, 4oz. noodles, 1 cup sauce stirring vigorously until noodles soften. You can add in a little bit of water to help soften. Throw in ½ cup bean sprouts, pinch of garlic chives, and mix thoroughly.

Push your noodles over to one side of the wok, leaving one side clear and crack 1 egg directly into opening, scramble and cook to 80% — do not fold in. Turn down heat to low. Fold noodles over and set directly on top of egg, about 30 seconds to finish cooking. Remove from heat. Plate noodles, add extra chives, peanuts, chili flakes and lime wedges on top for garnish.

Eat and enjoy! Remember your donations help us to keep sharing recipes and training more students for courageous cooking! Special thanks to Christy Innouvong for writing this recipe, and Dew Napattaloong for creating the recipe video. 

How much pad thai should I make at once?

Pad Thai is a one plate dish and meant to be made in single portions. This recipe includes enough ingredients for four servings. However, directions are written for single batch only. Use remaining ingredients to make additional batches if desired, sauce can be refrigerated up to one week.

Can I cook my pad thai in advance and eat it later?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the best idea because the noodles will become gummy. We recommend prepping all the pad thai ingredients and sauce in advance. This will make it easier when you begin to stir fry. After you stir fry your noodles, you should eat it immediately for the best result. If the noodles have a chance to cool, they will begin to clump together. 

How different is pad thai in Thailand versus elsewhere?

We find that many versions of pad thai (including some in Thailand) are overly sweet. This is likely due to varying ways to make the pad thai sauce. The sauce should balance the sourness and sweetness, and be tangy when you eat the noodles. If your noodles are too sweet, this flavor will dominate your experience of the dish, and the medley of flavors from ingredients such as the dried shrimp and radish will be muted. We’re aware some people may prefer this, but we want to give you a Thai perspective on how pad Thai should really taste!

Is pad thai Thailand’s national dish?

No. Pad Thai is Thailand’s most well known dish. You may argue that the dish is more popular in western countries than it is in Thailand. This makes finding a tasty, authentic version difficult to find in Bangkok. We recommend hunting down a restaurant that specializes in these noodles, or you can always learn to make this recipe in our Courageous Kitchen cooking class

Can I add meat to this recipe?

Yes, pad thai is most commonly made with chicken or shrimp. You can add 50-100 grams of meat per serving. However if you decide to add shrimp, we recommend you saute the shrimp first.

Unlike the chicken, the shrimp is easy to overcook and may begin to come apart as you vigorously stir your noodles together. Instead, we recommend you shallow fry them first in a few teaspoons of oil. When the shrimp is cooked, set aside. Then keep your now shrimp flavored oil for your batch of pad thai!

What other versions of pad thai should I try?

We love the egg wrapped version of pad thai. This is created by making a thin omelette style wrapper and adding your cooked noodles inside. This can be a lot of work when you’re hungry, but if you’ve got extra time and hands in the kitchen, it is delicious and looks beautiful as well. 

In addition to egg wrapped pad thai, there is a version of pad thai cooked in Thailand’s eastern coastal provinces that diverges away from the common versions most people know. In places like Pattaya, Chonburi, Chantaburi, and Rayong you can find pad thai cooked with chunks of crab meat! These coastal regions also prefer a very oily sweet sauce, made by using the oil from the head of the shrimp. They will also use ‘sen jan’ (ผัดไทเส้นจันท์), which are thinner rice noodles than typically used in better known versions. Although thinner, the noodles hold up better for stir frying and are used in other recipes in this region as well. 

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A Recipe for Making Authentic Khao Soi Curry

A Recipe for Making Authentic Khao Soi Curry

Whether from traveling to Thailand or watching street food videos, people around the world are excited to try Thailand’s rich khao soi curry. This hearty northern Thai dish wins people over by being full of tender stewed meat, aromas from the spices in the curry, and a colorful array of condiments.

We wanted to recreate this recipe in the tradition of Thai street food in Chiang Mai. Our strongest clues for how khao soi was eaten in the past come from the 40 year old flavors you can taste at the restaurant Khao Soi Islam in downtown Chiang Mai. The taste is a sharp contradiction to the extra sweet and salty versions many restaurants, and thus many online recipes promote today.

So here’s our method for the old school version. When you come to Bangkok, be sure to join a cooking class where you can learn to make this yourself. You’ll see in the video, we even pounded the curry in a granite mortar and pestle, this is the same Thai grandma elbow grease method we teach you in the class! Happy eating and remember you can help us feed and train more students by making a donation today!

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Khao Soi Curry Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 45 mins
Yields: 6 Servings, Feeds 3-4 People

INGREDIENTS

khao soi recipe ingredients

For the Curry Paste:

  • 8 to 10 dried Thai chili peppers soaked in water overnight
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 medium shallots, halved
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (⅓ cup sliced ginger)
  • One 2-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander root or 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons sliced lemongrass (½ lemongrass stalk)
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste, toasted in foil
  • 1½ teaspoons toasted coriander seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons toasted cardamom pods, seeds removed and husks discarded
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For the Chicken Rub (Marinade):

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tsp sea salt

To Assemble Your Khao Soi Noodles:

  • 3 cups coconut milk, divided
  • Curry paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ pounds chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated (4 legs, 8 pieces total)
  • 1 ½ cups oil (I prefer coconut or any high heat oil for frying)
  • 16 ounces thick egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • Salt to taste or fish sauce
  • Cilantro sprigs, pickled mustard greens, shallots, chili oil and lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

1. Wash and dry chicken. Marinate with dry rub and set aside. (Can do this overnight)

2. Make the curry paste: Place the dried chiles in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and let soak until softened, 20 minutes, or soak overnight in cold water. Drain the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.

3. Toast dry spices in a hot pan until darkened, no oil needed, remove from heat and set aside. Toast remaining paste ingredients until they have a slight char or smoky aroma. Toast shrimp paste in a small foil packet. Remove from heat and put all ingredients in your mortar or blender.
3. In a mortar, pound garlic, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, ginger, turmeric, coriander root (or cilantro stems), lemongrass, shrimp paste, curry powder, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, and 2 to 4 tablespoons of coconut milk or the chili soaking liquid (as needed) to make a paste. Makes about 1¼ cups.

4. Make the soup: In a large heavy pot, heat 1 cup of the coconut milk over medium-high heat. When the coconut milk begins to simmer, add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has thickened and reduced, 5-10 minutes. The oils should start to bubble and separate. Add the marinated chicken, browning a little on both sides. Add the water or chicken stock (covering chicken completely) and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry 4 ounces of egg noodles until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

authentic khao soi recipe-1

6. Cook the egg noodles one batch at a time, prepare one pot of boiling water and one ice bath for a 3 step process:

  • Slightly rinse noodles under cold water to remove excess flour.
  • Submerge into rapid boiling water, just to soften, about 30-40 seconds, remove immediately (too long and they will become gummy and inedible)
  • Transfer the noodles immediately from boiling pot to ice bath. This will stop the cooking, retain color and help firm them. Remove after 30 seconds, and place in bowl.

6. Stir the palm sugar into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or fish sauce. Place noodles and soup among 6 bowls. Lightly drizzle coconut milk over top of soup, (don’t stir!) and serve with cilantro, pickled mustard greens, shallots, fried chili oil and lime wedges.

authentic khao soi recipe-3

Special thanks to our friends at Spoon Fork Heart for inviting us to participate in their International Chicken Collaboration Series. If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider donation to Courageous Kitchen to help up provide more cooking classes and education to children in need!

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