This vegan Thai Khao Soi recipe is the best and brought back many memories from when I visited Chiangmai a few years ago. The broth has a multidimensional flavor using a homemade paste.
When I was a student in Oklahoma, one of the many things I missed was a bowl of curry noodles. But back then, Malaysian food wasn’t all that common, so the closest I could get was a bowl of khao soi. I was floored. The look and taste of this dish brought me home immediately.
Compared to Malaysian curry laksa, especially the ones I have tried, khao soi broth is normally thicker and a little sweeter but they have so many similarities. I make khao soi regularly with my own chile paste and loved the one I had from Chiang Mai (at Reform Kafe) the most.
Common pairings for khao soi include sour mustard, crispy fried noodles, any protein, fresh shallots, and yellow noodles. If you haven’t tried sour mustard, a type of pickles made from mustard green, in soups or noodles, you are missing out. The flavor combo is sooo mouthwatering and instantly warms up my belly and heart.
Today, you’ll see how to make a bowl of scrumptious Khao Soi with a homemade chile paste and how you can pair it with some simple yet tasty ingredients.
How to Make Vegan Khao Soi
Part 1: Prepare the chile paste
For the paste, I’m using a mix of dried chiles and fresh red jalapeños for a warmer red. If you prefer a spicier version, you can use dried Thai chiles for the paste.
Mix chiles, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaves (stem removed) along with cumin, coriander, and turmeric powder in a food processor. Season with some salt.
Add the oil and blend into a fine paste. My recipe yields a little over 1/2 cup.
Part 2: Cook the chile paste
Just like my Malaysian curry laksa recipe, you’ll ‘fry’ the paste to cook the chile to release its aroma. Try to do it over low-medium heat to avoid burning the chile.
Once the paste is ready, add the protein of choice. Here, I’m using chopped King Oyster mushrooms. Sauté with the chile paste until fragrant.
Add the vegetable stock or water, then bring it to a rolling boil. Season with palm sugar and vegan fish sauce. Taste test and adjust accordingly.
Add the coconut milk and bring it to boil. Taste and season accordingly.
Part 3: How to serve
For the toppings, I cut a few wonton wrappers into thin strips and fried them until golden brown.
Then, cook the noodles as directed and place them in a bowl. Ladle hot soup over and serve with wonton strips, sour mustard, fresh shallots or pearl onions, and cilantro. Don’t forget to add a squeeze of lime juice too.
Vegan Thai Khao Soi Cooking Tips
What I can sub galangal with? – You can always skip this ingredient but I find that the citrus taste really adds an amazing layer of flavor to this curry. You can try to sub it with a small slice of ginger with some lime juice or use a little more lemongrass.
Crispy noodles options – I used my leftover wonton wrappers from Vegan Wontons in Chili Oil to create the toppings. You can always fry some of your wheat noodles as well.
Coconut Milk – I used coconut milk in cans or paper packages that have 60% or higher coconut extract. Add a little more coconut milk if you prefer a creamier curry.
Add the room temperature coconut milk while the broth is simmering to prevent the coconut fat from separating. Once you added the coconut milk, then you can bring the temperature back up. My grandma always taught me not to cover the pot with lid after you add the coconut milk to avoid this as well.
Dried chile vs fresh chile – A mix or just one type of chile is great. I used both as my dried chile is pretty spicy. Dried chile also gave the broth a darker look.
Vegan fish sauce – There are many options these days at the store and if you are using the store-bought version, please adjust the salt level accordingly. For a slightly sweet Nước mắm Chay, please use this homemade vegan fish sauce.
This Vegan Khao Soi is
- Dairy Free
- Easily customizable (use gluten-free noodles and sauces as options)
- Perfect for any weather
- Easy to make
- SO Delicious!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Khao Soi – my favorite Chiangmai’s Noodle Soup
- 3 servings noodles of choice
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 palm sugar round (~15g)
- ¼ teaspoon of mushroom seasoning
- 3 tablespoons vegan ‘fish’ sauce or more to taste
- 8 oz mushrooms roughly chopped
- 1 cup of coconut milk or more for a creamier curry
- salt to taste
- oil for cooking
- 5 dried chiles soaked in hot water until soft
- 3 red jalapeños roughly chopped
- 2 large shallots about ¼ cup chopped
- 3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass white part only, chopped
- 4 lime leaves stem removed
- 5 slices galangal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- a handful of fried wonton strips
- sour mustard thinly sliced
- a few lime slices
- a handful of chopped cilantro
- Prepare the wonton strip: Cut 6-8 wonton wrappers into thin strips. Fill a small pot with enough oil and turn on the heat. Once the oil is heated, quickly fry the wonton strips until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside until ready to use.
- Make the curry paste: Place the soaked chiles, jalapeños, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, 1 teaspoon of salt, plus the cumin, coriander, and turmeric in a food processor.)
- Add a drizzle of oil, then blend into a fine paste. (Alternatively, you can also use a mortar and pestle to pound the ingredients.)
- Heat up a large wok and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Add the ground chile paste and stir-fry over medium-low heat until fragrant. If it appears dry, add a little more oil. Please do not over-fry the paste or it will turn bitter.
- Add the mushrooms and continue to stir-fry until they release their aroma.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Season with the vegan fish sauce, palm sugar, and mushrooms seasoning.
- Turn down the heat and add the coconut milk. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the season accordingly.
- While that’s simmering, cook your noodles of choice as directed by the package, then evenly divide the cooked noodles between three bowls.
- Ladle the hot curry over the noodles. Garnish with fried wonton strips, shallots, sour mustard, lime wedges, and cilantro.
- For the vegetable stock, feel free to use a homemade version or store-bought. For a quick version, mix in Yondu and/or mushrooms seasoning with the hot water.
- If you are using store-bought vegan fish sauce, please adjust the salt level accordingly. My homemade vegan fish sauce (Nước mắm Chay) is slightly sweeter.
- Noodle – I used Twin Marquis Stir-Fried vegan noodle
- Mushrooms seasoning – I used Po Lo Ku mushrooms seasoning