Chef Anny Sooksri’s energetic personality is matched only by her knowledge and passion for Thai cuisine. She is the chef and owner of three Thai restaurants in Salt Lake, including Chabaar, Beyond Thai in Midvale, and Tea Rose Diner in Murray.
Her signature dish served at Tea Rose and Chabaar is Kow Soi, an authentic curry dish from northern Thailand distinguished by the creamy coconut curry served over soft noodles and topped with crunchy noodles. The traditional protein of the dish is either skin-on chicken thigh or bone-in stewed beef.
Sooksri recalls her first introduction to Kow Soi when she was just 10 or 11-years-old. She was visiting her mother’s close friend in Chiang Mai one summer when she discovered “the creamy, crunchy and indescribable deliciousness of all those flavors. It’s like a party in your mouth,” she says.
After arriving in Utah, Sooksri was unable to find a Kow Soi similar to the one she ate growing up, so she set about creating it the way she remembered for her customers. “The chile paste is made with dry chile, ginger, salt, coriander, cilantro root, shallot, turmeric, black cardamom and curry powder, then cooked in coconut milk,” she says. The pungent, thick coconut gravy is served with your choice of meat (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish or tofu) over egg noodles.
She continues, “In Thailand, they usually serve it with a side of diced shallot, pickled mustard greens and fried chile in oil. At Chabaar and Tea Rose Diner, we serve those on top plus bean sprouts.” Shredded carrot, red onion, basil and lime also accompany the dish.
Sooksri has further adapted the recipe for Kow Soi to suit her many vegan and vegetarian customers by omitting the traditional shrimp paste so everyone can enjoy her signature meal. She also grows her own cilantro to collect the root and use it in the curry paste as well as making the restaurants’ own probiotic pickled mustard greens. “As I stress to all my customers, probiotic fermented vegetables and herbs are very beneficial to our body. I want the best for me and my people, especially my customers.”
Find Sooksri’s Kow Soi at either Chabaar, Beyond Thai, 87 W 7200 S, Midvale or Tea Rose Diner, 65 E 5th Ave, Murray
Recipe for Kow Soi (2-4 servings)
For the curry paste:
5-6 big dried chiles
3 Asian shallots
3 cilantro roots
2 oz. ginger
2 fresh grated turmeric
For the curry:
12 oz. diced beef for stew
1 cup coconut cream
2 cups coconut milk
2-3 large carrots
2 Tbsp. palm sugar
1 Tbsp. tamarind sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
1 package of egg noodles
Oil for frying
Diced shallot or red onion
Fried dry chile
To make the curry paste, soak the dry chiles in water for 5 minutes. In the meantime, turn on a burner to medium heat, and put all dry ingredients into the pan without oil. Toast until it turns brown and has a nice aroma. Turn on another burner and place all the beef into a pot. Sear it on all sides then add coconut milk. Let it simmer until the beef is tender and can easily be seperated with a fork.
Put all the fresh ingredients for the curry paste into a blender, then add the toasted dry ingredients and blend until it turns into a fine paste. Spoon the paste and coconut cream into the beef and coconut pot, add carrot and bring to a boil. Season with palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind sauce.
Take half of the egg noodles and deep fry them until they are puffed and crispy. Fry a couple of dried chilies and set aside. Boil the remainder of the noodles in water until soft and place them in a serving bowl. Pour the curry over the noodles and garnish with the diced shallot, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, cilantro, lime and fried chili. Serve hot.