This is perhaps the dish that made me realize that my hubby was (and is) the real deal. I figured that any man who would feed me like this for all the days of my life was probably a keeper. Before we met, I had never even heard of this dish and quite aptly so b/c khao soi ( pronounced 'cow-soy' and which literally means 'sliced rice' in Lao) is traditionally a noodle soup that is prominent among homes and street-side vendors in Northern Laos and Thailand. I've read that in Thailand, the broth is curry-based and is usually topped with crunchy fried egg noodles, but I have yet to try that version. In our house, we make the Lao version that's been adapted to fit our palate and however our moods dictate.
It's been raining these past few days and I suppose it's right what they say about April showers bringing May flowers because that's all Mother Nature has been dealing to us in Northern California. What better way to celebrate the rain than bury my head over a steamy bowl of khao soi and slurp away to my heart's delight. With some beef neck bones and pork ribs, I cooked up a broth flavored with kaffir lime leaves, ginger and celery. I love the aroma of fresh herbs simmering away in my stock pot on a cold, gloomy day. It's these little moments that make me feel right at home.
And of course, khao soi would not be complete without its topping: a rich, creamy layer of ground pork that's been flavored with freshly chopped tomatoes, ginger and none other than the infamous fermented soy beans. Oh, I know what you're thinking. Soy beans I like, but fermented? What the heck? Spicy, what is up with you and these stinky ingredients? Haha! Well, you may say stinky, but I say...damn GOOD, that's what!
And quite frankly, if I may be the first to point out: Aren't the best foods also some of the stinkiest? In the Western world, I believe this title would have to go to all the smelly cheeses (yes, all my lovers of formage) that we know and adore so much. Stinky, but highly addictive, right? Well, the same can be said for the foods of Southeast Asia. The stinkier, the better! And in all honesty, I don't even smell the fermented soy beans once it's simmering with the other ingredients. And when it's all said and done & you're busy diving into this bowl of goodness, the soy beans do a wonderful job of imparting a nutty flavor to the dish and this is just one of the many reasons why I love it! Top it off with some spicy chili peppers, a squeeze of a juicy slice of lime and sprinkle with some basil, cilantro, green onions and crisp bean sprouts and I can (almost) guarantee that you'll forget it's even raining in the first place.
Recipe to follow soon! I promise!