Our best Asian noodle recipes include recipes for an array of Southeast Asian noodle soups, and even Asian stir-fry noodles, from a spice-laden Singapore curry laksa and a creamy coconut-based Chiang Mai khao soi gai to a Lao khao soi with a ragu Bolognese-like sauce and Indonesia’s chicken soup for the soul, soto ayam.
We’ve been eating a lot of noodles recently – partly to satisfy our comfort food cravings and partly because they can be quick and easy to make. So I thought I’d compile a round up of our best Asian noodle recipes that we have here on Grantourismo, as much for our ease as to share them with you.
You see, we’ve spent the last two weeks sorting, packing up and cleaning our Siem Reap home of five years – and freaking out at the many possessions we’ve gathered, from cookbooks to ceramics, textiles to pantry favourites – and then unpacking that 60 months worth of stuff at our new apartment just across the river. Which explains why we’ve been so quiet here on the site and on our social media channels.
Due to the fact that much of our kitchen was packed away, a lack of time and incredible tiredness – it’s 13 years since we packed up our Dubai apartment, put everything in storage, and took to the road to live out of our suitcases, so we had forgotten how exhausting moving can be – Terence was mainly jazzing up instant ramen noodles for us for dinner.
I didn’t realise people could do such amazing things with 3-minute noodles nor that they could taste so good. One night Terence did a brined pork tenderloin, which he marinated in a five-spice mix, smoke-grilled, and thinly sliced onto the noodles. Another night he added halves of five-minute boiled eggs, fresh spring onions, a little sesame oil, and fried shallots. (Oh, was that a no-recipe recipe??? Do read Terence’s post on that subject if you missed it.)
Now that we’re settling in to our new home and we finally have the oven we’ve been missing for five years (oh, the irony), I’m craving comfort food and for me that means noodles, only I’m craving the real thing – fresh rice noodles, soup stocks that simmer for hours, curry pastes pounded from scratch – which is why I’ve gathered our best Asian noodle recipes here. Yep, that’s how a couple of writers send hints to eachother. They publish stuff!
A warning though: while the instant noodles might take minutes to make, these Asian noodle recipes can take anything from a half hour to two or three hours to prepare. However, they are completely worth it. Put on some music, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the process.
Best Asian Noodle Recipes to Satisfy Your Comfort Food Cravings
Singapore Curry Laksa Recipe
This Singapore laksa recipe makes the rich coconut milk-laced version of this classic Southeast Asian noodle soup. While there’s an infinite array of laksas to be slurped, there are two main types: one with coconut milk and one without. The laksa with coconut milk combined with a stock and curry paste broth ubiquitous in Singapore and southern Malaysia, where it’s typically called curry laksa or curry mee (‘mee’ means noodles). The other type is asam laksa or Penang laksa, Penang being the dish’s spiritual home, and the broth is a fish stock commonly made from mackerel and sardines, with no coconut milk to sweeten up the sour tamarind. Terence has been making Singapore laksa since we first started tucking into the spicy coconut curry noodle soup in Sydney, Australia, in the 1980s, at the hugely popular ‘Singapore Curry Laksa’ stall in a Chinatown food court. For many years, laksa served as dinner before our evening uni classes and brunch on Saturday mornings before shopping Paddy’s markets. Terence has long been obsessed with recreating that original noodle soup (in his recipe manager he has 10 different curry laksa recipes!) but this incarnation is thanks to a recipe by legendary Sydney chef, Christine Manfield, which has a list of 17 ingredients. A great laksa isn’t made from a jar of paste, but starts with a homemade curry paste pounded from scratch in a mortar and pestle. Trust us, the final result is worth the effort!
Ohn No Khao Swe Recipe
This ohn no khao swe recipe for Myanmar’s beloved Burmese chicken coconut noodle soup is one of our best Asian noodle recipes for those in need of some serious comfort food. It’s a dish that Terence has been making since we first became enamoured with it on our first trip to the country when we sampled it at Yangon’s grand old hotel, The Strand. Probably the most popular dish alongside mohinga, Ohn no khao swe consists of egg noodles in an aromatic chicken curry soup with a coconut milk base that is typically garnished with crunchy fried noodles, boiled eggs, shallots, fried garlic, dried chilli, lime, coriander (cilantro), and sometimes fried chickpea fritters. Indeed, in Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, published in 1978, author Mi Mi Khaing, who was of the Mon ethnic group but married a royal from the Shan States, writes that garnishing your ohn no khao swe is one of the most fun bits about eating this noodle soup, and she describes the “festivity because with such dishes guests do the final mixing with small accompaniments to their individual tastes”.
Lao Khao Soi Recipe
This Lao khao soi recipe is one of the best Asian noodle recipes for satisfying comfort food cravings as it makes a hearty soup with wide rice noodles and a generous dollop of a rich tomato-based pork mince sauce that resembles an Asian take on an Italian ragu Bolognese. The recipe is one Terence has been perfecting for years, since we fell in love with Lao khao soi on our first trip to Luang Prabang, Laos, after our guide Bounmee pointed out a rustic noodle joint in a ramshackle corrugated iron shed that he claimed ladled out the best Lao khao soi in town. It’s served with plenty of fresh greens – crispy long snake beans, aromatic mint, basil, and lime halves – and that Luang Prabang cook gave us an array of condiments to add, including shrimp paste, fish sauce, chilli sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper, but all I reckon it needs is a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes. Just like a good ragu Bolognese it’s going to take a few hours to make, but having eaten this countless times, I guarantee it’s the best few hours you’ll spend making an Asian noodle soup.
Chiang Mai Khao Soi Gai Recipe
This Chiang Mai khao soi gai recipe makes the wonderful curry noodle chicken soup that foreign visitors to the Northern Thailand city tend to become fixated with and it’s easily another of our best Asian noodle recipes. Thailand‘s old Lanna kingdom capital, Chiang Mai is famous for its fantastic Northern Thai-style Lanna food and khao soi gai must be its best-known dish. The one-bowl meal of egg noodles in a rich and oily, coconut cream-based stock, with a leg or thigh of bone-in chicken (‘gai’ is Thai for chicken) topped with crunchy noodles could have arrived with Chinese Muslim traders from Southern China. However, khao soi gai shares a little DNA with Myanmar’s chicken coconut noodle soup, ohn no khao swe, above, which could have travelled to Lanna along the old established trading route between Moulmein and Chiang Mai, which was well-traversed during the roughly 200-year Burmese rule (1558-1775) when, among other things, coconuts were shipped to Chiang Mai from the Southern Myanmar port of Moulmein. One of the sure signs of a good khao soi gai is a slick of bright red oil on top, created from the splitting of the coconut cream and stock – which only really happens with fresh coconut cream. What this does is help coat the noodles with oil and stock with each mouthful.
Hokkien Noodles with Chinese Barbecue Pork Recipe
There are few things more comforting than tucking into a big bowl of wok-fried Hokkien noodles and this Hokkien noodles recipe with char siu pork or Chinese barbecue pork was originally modified from a recipe by iconic Australian chef Neil Perry. The recipe was published in Neil’s first cookbook, Rockpool, which featured an eclectic set of modern Australian recipes for dishes that fused global flavours, everything from Asian to European. Soon after tucking into our first bowls, the noodles quickly because one of our favourite go-to comfort food dishes and Terence has been making it regularly ever since we left Australia in 1998, so for close to two decades, making it another of our best Asian noodle recipes. Terence first published the Hokkien noodles recipe as part of his series on char siu pork recipes. We love it because it’s so easy to whip up. Once you’ve made your char siu pork, the rest of the ingredients can be found in a good Asian market or supermarket with an Asian section if you don’t have a solid Asian pantry at home. Just like our Chinese special fried rice recipe, these Hokkien noodles are best made in a nicely seasoned carbon steel wok to get a little smoky flavour in the dish.
Soto Ayam Recipe for Yogyakarta’s Indonesian Chicken Noodle Soup
This soto ayam recipe for the beloved Indonesian chicken noodle soup is based on the aromatic breakfast noodle soup we became smitten with on our last day in Yogyakarta and it’s easily one of Terence’s best Asian noodle recipes. The old capital of East Java is best known as a base for exploring the archaeological wonders of Borobudur and Prambanan, but it’s also home to some fabulous street food. ‘Soto’ means soup and ‘ayam’ is chicken and this chicken soup with noodles is the go-to breakfast for many locals. Terence’s soto ayam recipe was inspired by the soto ayam we sampled, which stood out for the consommé-like clarity of the light soup and fragrant stock, however, some recipes Terence spotted during his research called for coconut milk, so don’t be surprised if it differs from others you’ve tried. There seems to be a soto ayam recipe for every village, town, city, and region on Indonesia’s 18,307 islands, but if there’s one thing that Indonesians seem to agree on, that’s that soto ayam is the country’s chicken noodle soup for the soul. Like all good chicken soups, soto ayam is comfort food, eaten as a healthy filling breakfast to kickstart the day, and recommended for the restorative properties of its ingredients (its turmeric in particular) when you’re feeling a little off or unwell.
Vietnamese Bun Cha Recipe
Of all the Vietnamese specialties I could crave, it’s bun cha (bún chả) that’s been on my mind the last two weeks as I’ve sat on a tiny plastic red stool to pack and then unpack boxes (better for the back than bending over) and this Vietnamese bun cha recipe is easily another of our best Asian noodle recipes. Bun cha must be one of the most quintessential Hanoi dishes after pho (phở) and this recipe makes the bun cha we used to lunch on in the Vietnam capital several times a week when we rented an apartment on ‘Food Street’ six years ago. The lovely woman who set up her stall each morning on the curb-side grilled the smokiest char-grilled pork patties and pork belly (the ‘chả’), which she served in a warm dipping sauce, fresh rice noodles (bún), aromatic herbs and greens (perilla, ﬁsh leaf, basil, mint, coriander, butter lettuce, maybe sprouts), and Vietnamese fried spring rolls. Chef Peter Cuong Franklin, owner of Saigon’s ănăn, one of Vietnam’s most exciting restaurants right now, told me “The elements of a good bun cha are good quality ground pork for the meat patties, sliced pork belly, caramel sauce for the meat marinade, charcoal grill to get that charred flavour on the meat, a light Hanoi-style nuoc cham sauce that is heated to warm temperature, fresh bun rice noodle, lots of fresh lettuce and herbs, especially tía tô (perilla), and sliced fresh chili and diced garlic for the extra kick”. While the pork is clearly centre-stage, bun cha would be nothing without noodles.
Do let us know if you make any of our best Asian noodle recipes. We’d love to hear how they turn out for you.