How To Make Kapia Noodles?

On chilly winter days or any other days when you feel under the weather, this soup is perfect to eat. Various condiments, including fried garlic, chili paste, cilantro, green onions, fish sauce, etc., can be used to enhance it. I’ll demonstrate how to make a straightforward chicken rice noodle soup today.


Khao piak sen is lao style chicken noodle soup. It’s such a straightforward chicken soup served with soft, chewy tapioca noodles that resembles udon. Traditionally, the chicken broth is cooked with the noodles right in it, giving the broth a slightly thick, starchy texture.

A dish loaded with slippery noodles, layers of aromatics, and an abundance of fresh and fragrant toppings.

How To Make Kapia Noodles?

How To Make Kapia Noodles?

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  • Using the oil from the fried garlic and shallots to make the broth captures every ounce of flavor.
  • Optionally charring some of the onion and ginger adds depth and complexity to the broth.
  • Using a stand mixer to start the noodles protects your hands from the heat of the boiling water.
  • Cooking the noodles in the broth adds starch to the broth itself, giving it its signature viscosity.
  • The first time I encountered khao piak sen, or Lao chicken noodle soup, was through a TV screen. Chef James Syhabout of Oakland’s Commis and San Francisco’s Hawker Fare was face-deep in a bowl as he told Anthony Bourdain about his relationship with Laos, a country he and his family fled in the 1970s. There was something so raw about the scene—Chef Syhabout slurping the soup almost hurriedly, as if he’s chasing a memory; him tipping back the bowl for its last remnants; sitting quietly for a moment after he’s done—I immediately decided I needed a bowl for myself.

    After a frenzy of Googling, I managed to track down just one restaurant offering khao piak sen in New York City: Hug Esan, a northeastern Thai (Isan) restaurant in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens. The bowl there, while absolutely delicious, left me with even more questions than before. Why was the broth made from pork, not chicken? Are these the same noodles as the Vietnamese bánh canh (a similarly thick, soft noodle made of tapioca and rice flour)? Why is a Lao dish being served at a Thai restaurant? And why am I growing so obsessed with this soup?

    With so many points to resolve, I put out queries for Lao experts and was serendipitously introduced to Chef Seng Luangrath of Washington D.C.’s Thip Khao. Like Chef Syhabout, she also fled Laos as a child during the Vietnam War (which raged in Laos as a “secret war”), finding refuge first in Thailand before resettling in the U.S.

    Now an active champion of the Lao Food Movement, Chef Luangrath was more than willing to educate me about one of her best-selling soups. She told me that khao piak sen translates as “wet rice noodle” and is a chicken (and sometimes pork) broth–based soup filled with shredded poached chicken, translucent rice-and-tapioca noodles, and topped with a bounty of fresh herbs.

    How To Make Kapia Noodles?

    Chef Luangrath sighed with great tenderness shortly after we called and said, “It’s a noodle I remember really well; a noodle I just love so much.” ” At its core, it’s a soup about personalization. Chef Luangrath told me, “The best part is that everyone makes it how they like to eat it.” “My broth is a straightforward ginger one, while others prefer theirs made with lemongrass, galangal, and [makrut] lime leaves.” Some people add cilantro stems or char the vegetables (like onion and garlic). Some people substitute pork neck bones for the whole chicken when making it. ”.

    Although the soup can be prepared in many different ways, its distinctive texture—glossy and slightly viscous—remains consistent in all of them. This results from the process of cooking raw noodles in the broth without first removing the chicken, allowing the starch to give the broth body.

    For a clearer broth, some cooks will even add extra starch, while others will rinse out the flour, according to Chef Luangrath. No matter how the last bowl appears, it is always accompanied by fresh vegetables and condiments, which are a staple of Lao cuisine. There is plenty of room for creativity with fresh bean sprouts or curly twines of morning glory, in addition to the traditional ingredients of scallion, cilantro, chile oil, fried garlic, fried shallot, lime wedges, black pepper, and white pepper.

    In the Lao capital city of Vientiane, rows and rows of khao piak sen vendors are a common sight. Chef Luangrath remembers this sight with great affection. Early in the morning, my neighbors would prepare this soup and take it to the market. Every mall would have a khao piak sen stall. Beyond being a breakfast favorite, it’s also a well-liked late-night (“after parties”) snack and a common food at significant gatherings (it’s typical for mourners to eat a bowl together at the conclusion of funerals, before the body is cremated).

    A dish called Khao piak sen illustrates the multiculturalism ingrained in Lao history and its people. Lao people can trace their ancestry to a group that once lived in Southern China and shared a language known as “Tai.” They made a series of migrations southward, settling in what is now Laos, northeastern Thailand (the Isan region), and nearby parts of Vietnam between the 8th and the 12th century CE, according to various historical theories.

    This makes a lot of sense given the soup’s intriguing similarities to certain dishes from Chinese cuisine: Chef Luangrath enthusiastically informed me that there are khao piak sen vendors who will serve a steaming bowl with youtiao, a long fried doughnut stick that is frequently eaten with congee or soy milk for breakfast in some parts of China, after learning that I am Chinese-American.

    Khao piak sen, a dish that promotes individuality, has appropriately persisted as a focal point of the Lao diaspora. “Many Thai restaurants [in D. C. Chef Luangrath tells me with a small chuckle, “I know [the restaurant is] probably Lao-owned because they will sneak khao piak sen on the menu or on the secret menu. As a result of the erasure of Laotian influence, including the use of the term “Lao” as a descriptor and its replacement with “northeastern Thai” or “Isan,” by the Thai government, the relationship between Thai and Lao people is complicated. This is partly due to the blurring of ethnic and national boundaries.

    Following a military takeover in the 1930s, the country’s new leaders launched a nationalist “Thaification” campaign that prioritized the Thai people, culture, and language over those of the Lao, Chinese, and Malay populations. (Pad thai was also made the de facto national dish at this time.) ).

    Som tam, larb (sometimes spelled laap), and the numerous pockets of sticky rice served alongside a meal—some of Laos’ greatest culinary contributions—have been introduced as purely regional Thai cuisine in the US. In some of these restaurants, Lao cooks serving khao piak sen can be seen as a subdued way of asserting their identities; as Chef Syhabout put it, “now it’s a matter of re-educating” “.

    Khao piak sen is meant to be colorful and varied, so trying to reduce it to just one version was difficult in and of itself. I was kindly given Chef Luangrath’s broth and noodle recipes, from which I constructed a basic flavor profile. After a few chickens, I realized that the broth needed more substance, so I experimented with charring some of the onion and ginger until I found what, to me, tasted like the sweet spot. Fresh cilantro stems and makrut lime leaves provided the balance that this extra body needed in the form of brighter notes.

    How To Make Kapia Noodles?

    Noodle-wise, I struggled. The most typical ratio for these fresh noodles is 1:1 rice flour to tapioca flour, but many online recipes advise a 1:1 for those who prefer a chewier noodle. 5 or a 1:1. 3 rice-to-tapioca ratio. The base may also contain salt or MSG, Chef Luangrath informed me. It makes sense to make a simplified ramen dish by adding an alkaline ingredient, so she occasionally adds some baking soda to give the noodles a springier bite (note that this does give the noodles a slightly yellow color).

    The main problem I encountered was the actual method for making the noodles, even though the ratios were challenging to navigate. The key word here is “hot,” as in boiling, to activate the starch. I mixed the flours and hot water in my dependable stand mixer, but once combined, they were incredibly sticky and difficult to handle.

    Naturally, watching videos of Chef Luangrath preparing noodles in contrast made them look simple (she frequently completes the process by hand in a large metal bowl, unaffected by the water’s temperature). Eventually, I discovered a technique that worked consistently, despite my weak wrists and the fact that my hands cannot withstand water that is 212°F (100°C) in temperature. I did this by kneading in more of each flour during each step to give the final dough a pliable but not overly wet consistency. Regarding the argument over ratios, I preferred the softness of rice flour and found any preparation with a ratio greater than 1:1 to be rather difficult to chew. However, the cook has complete discretion in this matter.

    As Chef Luangrath and I ended our phone call, she shared a brief anecdote about how Lao cuisine is finally, and rightfully, starting to carve out its own space in American culinary culture. “I used to have to constantly compare [khao piak sen] to udon or bánh canh, but now that people know what it is, they keep coming back and asking for it,” She appeared to be beaming on the other end of the phone, and that seemed appropriate. Khao piak sen is an intimate dish that serves as a reminder of the close connection between food and identity in addition to providing more than a little bit of comfort in a bowl. So it’s not surprising that Chef Luangrath would feel validated when others find out how tasty it can be.

    How To Make Kapia Noodles?

    For the Fried Garlic and Shallot:

  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 24 cloves garlic (120g), sliced thinly crosswise, preferably with a mandoline
  • 3 medium shallots (150g), sliced thinly crosswise into rounds, preferably with a mandoline
  • For the Broth and Chicken:

  • 1 medium yellow onion (10 ounces; 280g), peeled and quartered through the root end
  • 3 large knobs ginger (3 ounces; 90g), peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) garlic and shallot oil, from above
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (2 3/4 ounces; 80g), outer layer discarded then roughly chopped
  • 6 medium cloves garlic (1 ounce; 30g), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 5 makrut lime leaves
  • Stems from 1 bunch cilantro (2 ounces; 60g), chopped (see notes)
  • One 3- to 4-pound (1.3 to 1.8kg) whole chicken, blotted dry (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (3/4 ounce; 25g), plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • For the Noodles:

  • 7 ounces (200g) plus 3/4 ounce (20g) white rice flour, divided (see notes)
  • 7 ounces (200g) plus 3/4 ounces (20g) tapioca flour, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups (415ml) boiling water
  • To Finish and Serve the Soup:

  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 2 fresh bird’s eye chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 5 sprigs morning glory, pulled through a morning glory shredder (optional; see notes)
  • Lime wedges
  • Fried garlic, from above
  • Fried shallots, from above
  • Picked cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • For the Fried Garlic and Shallot: Line a plate with paper towels and set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and fry, swirling and stirring frequently, until golden brown all over, approximately 4 minutes. Pour garlic and oil into prepared strainer and allow to drain. Transfer garlic to the prepared paper towels, spreading it out in an even layer, and allow to drain further.
  • Return oil to pan, then set fine-mesh strainer over the same heatproof bowl. Line a second plate with clean paper towels.
  • Add shallots to pan and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until shallots begin to bubble, about 1 minute. Continue cooking, stirring constantly as the shallots fry to ensure even cooking, until shallots turn pale golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Working quickly, pour contents of saucepan into strainer set over bowl. (Shallots will continue cooking for a brief period after draining, so do not allow them to get too dark.) Reserve garlic-shallot oil.
  • For the Broth and Chicken: If desired, grill or sear (in a cast iron pan without oil) two of the onion quarters and two-thirds of the sliced ginger until well charred, about 2 minutes per cut side (this will add depth and complexity to the broth, but is optional). Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Roughly chop all of the onion and ginger, whether charred or not.
  • In a large 8-quart Dutch oven or soup pot, heat garlic-shallot oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add chopped onion and ginger, lemongrass, sliced garlic, lime leaves, and cilantro stems. Season lightly with salt, then cook, stirring, until onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Add chicken to pot and top with at least 5 quarts (5L) cold water, or enough to cover. Add the 2 tablespoons kosher salt along with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, for 2 hours, lifting lid occasionally to skim the surface of broth of any foam or scum that accumulates. Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Carefully remove chicken from the pot and transfer to a work surface (it may fall apart after this long cooking; simply fish out all the parts and bones). When cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones and shred with your hands or a fork. Discard bones and skin. Reserve chicken meat. Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Meanwhile, bring broth to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain broth, discarding solids, then return to cleaned pot. Season with salt.
  • For the Noodles: While the broth simmers, make the noodles. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 7 ounces rice flour and 7 ounces tapioca flour. Turn mixer to medium-low speed and drizzle in boiling water. Continue to mix, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula, until a moist dough ball forms, about 3 minutes. Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Whisk together remaining rice and tapioca flours, then sprinkle on a work surface. Turn dough ball out onto floured work surface. Knead dough by hand until all of the flour on the board has been fully incorporated into a supple dough, about 4 minutes.
  • Roll dough into a thick log and divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a small ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand.
  • Working one dough disc at a time, and keeping the remainder covered with a kitchen towel to prevent drying, roll using a rolling pin until roughly 1/8 inch thick and about 6 inches long.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice into noodles roughly 1/4 inch wide. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, dusting and tossing gently with rice flour to prevent sticking. Keep noodles covered with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • To Finish and Serve the Soup: Add noodles to boiling finished broth and cook, stirring very minimally to prevent them from breaking (theyre brittle until they cook through), until noodles float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Serious Eats / Liz Clayman
  • Transfer noodles to soup bowls. Add shredded chicken to each bowl. Ladle broth into bowls. Serve hot, allowing diners to garnish their soup with scallions, chiles, morning glory (if using), lime, fried garlic, fried shallots, and cilantro leaves and tender stems.
  • You can also use the roots of cilantro if you can find them. If you can, use an old hen; otherwise, any whole chicken will work well in this recipe.

    This recipe calls for white rice flour that has been finely ground; you can find it in Asian grocery stores. These are distinct from those sold at most large supermarket chains, like Bob’s Red Mill, because the finer rice flour is significantly more absorbent. If you’re using a product like Bob’s Red Mill, increase the amount of rice flour in the initial mixture by 30g, and increase the amount of tapioca flour in the second stage of kneading by 50g.

    Asian markets carry morning glory, also known as water spinach.

    On chilly winter days or any other days when you feel under the weather, this soup is perfect to eat. Various condiments, including fried garlic, chili paste, cilantro, green onions, fish sauce, etc., can be used to enhance it. I’ll demonstrate how to make a straightforward chicken rice noodle soup today.


    How do you cook tapioca noodles?

    The tapioca noodles should be quickly softened in boiling water. It’s already cooked, so it won’t take more than a few minutes. Use a colander to drain the liquid out. Serve the noodles with the seasoned broth, chicken, blood jelly, giblets, and blood.

    What are tapioca noodles?

    Without thawing, add frozen noodles to boiling broth and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer than fresh noodles, or until they float to the top. Make-Ahead and Storage. Nutrition Facts (per serving)450Calories13gFat55gCarbs29gProtein.

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