The Famous Thai Noodle Soup: Khao Poon or Kapoon

 Khao poon noodles are a type of Thai noodle that is often served with beef or pork. Khao poon can be made from either thin or thick rice noodles, and the broth contains soy sauce, lime juice, and fish sauce. The dish we will be discussing today on Bourbon O is called khao poon which has a sour and spicy taste as well as an orange hue.

What is Khao Poon?

Khao poon can be a soup or it may also appear as fried noodles, often served with chicken and topped with crispy garlic. It is made from rice vermicelli which is similar to spaghetti but thinner, rounder, and whiter in color. They have a clear, yellowish tint when cooked thoroughly over high heat until they turn transparent (almost like glass). The contrast of the white noodles against the orange broth makes for an appetizing dish that’s fun to eat too!

khao poon
Khao Poon or Red Curry Noodle Soup

The word “Khao Poon” comes from “Noodle Soup”. In the Thai language, the word Khao can mean either rice (which is spelled ข้าว) , noodles (spelled เส้น), cakes (cao – which are also spelled as cake, not keow). That’s why you see multiple spellings of this dish online including:

– Khaopun: with a U instead of an O due to different romanization schemes used by Thais when they write English words. The spelling with a U is more accurate, but the O version is more popular.

– Kapoon: this is how it sounds when spoken in the Thai language

– Khao Pun: This is the most literal translation from Thai to English, and it’s also the spelling that you’ll find on some restaurant menus.

How to make Khao Poon – Khao Poon recipe:

Ingredients:

–  500 grams thin rice noodles (khao poon) 

–  250 grams beef or pork ribs 

–  50 grams garlic 

–  30 grams dried shrimp 

–  15 grams shallots 

– ½ teaspoon sugar

– ½ teaspoon salt

– ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder 

Sauce ingredients:             

– tamarind water is made from soaking a small lime size ball of tamarind pulp in 100 ml hot water for about 15 minutes

–  25 grams Thai fish sauce (nam pla)

–  15 grams soy sauce (tao jiew)

–  11/­­12 cups water

khao poon
Khao poon noodles are a famous type of Thai noodle

Directions:

Thoroughly rinse the rice noodles in plenty of cold water, then soak them in hot boiled water for about 15 minutes until they are softened. Discard the soaking water and drain the noodles thoroughly. In a mortar, pound the garlic with a pestle until it becomes a paste. Add dried shrimp and pounded garlic to a blender and blend into a coarse mixture. Set aside.

In a pot or wok over medium heat, add ribs and fry until they are slightly browned on all sides. Add shallots and fry until they start to brown.

After that, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and keep stirring until they are well mixed together with the ribs. Then add tamarind water and bring it to a boil again. Turn down the heat slightly so that it is just simmering steadily (if you add too much water then your soup will be watered down). Taste test, adjust seasoning if needed by adding more salt or fish sauce accordingly. 

Once the boiling point has reached, turn off the stove completely while keeping the pot on a hot plate so as not to let the soup cool down quickly – this step should take about 30 minutes for flavors of chili powder to infuse into broth. After 30 minutes have passed, strain out solid ingredients from the pot using sieve paper or cheesecloth.

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Return strained broth to the pot and bring it back up to a boil. Add the softened rice noodles, stir well for about 15 minutes until the soup is boiling again. Once you have reached your desired consistency, turn off the stove completely so that soup does not overcook – this step should take another 30-40 minutes. If you are adding a protein of choices such as chicken or shrimp then add them in this stage. 

Add dried prawns mixture into hot broth just before turning off heat source while stirring continuously with a ladle or large spoon (this will prevent dried shrimps from sticking together). Serve hot and garnish with chopped coriander leaves if liked! 

Serve khao poon hot in small bowls, preferably using individual bamboo baskets if you have them available. You should be able to fit about three servings of rice noodles into each bowl so that people get an adequate amount per portion. If you like spicy food then add more dried shrimp or even some nam prik pao chili paste. Alternatively, for those who do not prefer too much spice then omit dried shrimps altogether – this will make your soup slightly more bland in flavor.

A good Khao Poon should be rich and flavorful with a tangy taste from the broth as well as have tender meat (in cases where you use chicken) or chewy bite-sized pieces of pork ribs. If you are using shrimp then it is important that you don’t overcook them or else they would end up being rubbery, soggy, and tasteless like eating rubber bands! 

Tips for making the best khao poon: 

  • Use fresh or frozen thin rice noodles, you can find them at most Asian grocery stores. If you cannot find thin rice noodles, you can use thick rice noodles but they will require a longer cooking time. 
  • The broth is very important in achieving flavor for this dish. You can use store-bought broth or make your own by boiling beef bones and water. Add a handful of cilantro stems, white onion skins, ginger slices, garlic cloves, star anise pods (if you have them), peppercorns, salt to taste. 

Conclusion:

Now that you know how to make this delicious Thai noodle soup, why not give it a try? Khao poon is perfect for those cold winter days when you need something comforting and warm to eat. The best part is that it’s easy to prepare so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. If you have any questions about cooking this dish or other Thai food recipes, just ask. Happy eating!

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Written By Bourbon O

I have been an artist and journalist for many years. I am a food blogger who is crazy about food, drink and specially kitchen gadgets.

1 thought on “The Famous Thai Noodle Soup: Khao Poon or Kapoon”

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