Kanom jim noodles are a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Nahm yaa gai, a rich and aromatic sauce from the Central Plains, is eaten with these noodles. It's rich and creamy without being too hot. Like all sauces for kanom jin, it develops and improves in taste as it sits, but I've found that it should not be kept for more than an hour before serving.
- 150 g skinless chicken breast fillet
- 200 g (1 cup) coconut milk
- 300 g (1½ cups) stock
- 2 stalks lemongrass (20 g)
- 1 pinch salt
- 3-4 red Asian eschalots (60 g), bruised
Nahm yaa gai paste
- 10 dried large red chillies (20 g), soaked in water to soften
- 1 pinch salt
- 2-3 red bird's eye chillies
- 2 tbsp galangal (20 g)
- 3 tbsp sliced lemongrass (25 g)
- 3 tbsp chopped wild ginger (grachai) (60 g) (see Note)
- 2 tbsp chopped red Asian eschalot (25 g)
- 1½ tbsp garlic (50 g)
- ½ tbsp Thai shrimp paste (gapi) (20 g)
- 1 quantity nahm yaa gai paste (see above)
- 1 tbsp salted fish (10 g), grilled
- 200 g (1 cup) coconut cream
- 1–1½ tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
- 1 pinch white sugar (2 g)
- 1 pinch grated palm sugar (4 g)
- 1 good pinch chilli powder (2 g)
- 1 good pinch galangal powder (2 g)
- 1 large pinch shredded wild ginger (grachai) (10 g)
- 4–6 toasted small dried red chillies (20 g)
- kanom jim noodles (see Note) or fresh rice noodles
- lemon basil sprigs
- bean sprouts
- coriander sprigs
- shredded banana blossoms
- boiled eggs
- pickled mustard green or Siamese watercress
- snake beans or green beans
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the poached chicken, combine the coconut milk, stock, salt, lemongrass and eschalots in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Poach the chicken in the broth, then remove and allow to cool. Reserve the coconut broth to make the sauce. Shred the chicken (you should have about ½ heaped cup, loosely packed).
To make the nahm yaa gai paste, pound the softened, dried large red chillies with a pinch of salt using a large mortar and pestle. Add the remaining ingredients, one at a time, pounding after each one, to combine and until a smooth paste forms. (Makes 100 g/½ cup.)
To make the sauce, add the salted fish to the nahm yaa gai paste in the mortar, and pound with the pestle until a smooth puree forms. Add the shredded chicken and pound until a nicely textured paste forms – you should still see chunks of chicken.
Bring the reserved coconut broth (from poaching the chicken) to the boil in a saucepan. Stir in the paste mixture to dissolve and simmer gently for a few minutes, stirring to prevent it from catching. Add the coconut cream, cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened and creamy. Season the sauce with the fish sauce, sugars, chilli powder and galangal powder. The sauce should be rich, salty, hot, sharp from the wild ginger and galangal, creamy, and with a slight, somewhat smoky taste from the salted fish.
Serve sprinkled with the shredded wild ginger (grachai) and toasted chillies. Serve with the noodles and accompaniments.
• Kanom jim noodles are available fresh from Thai grocers.