Oodles of Noodles
Loosely translated the start of the conversation went like this:
Me: So Saki, its your birthday, what do you want to eat?
Saki: Chef, I would love to have some Kao Piak Sen.
“Kao Piak” means “wet rice” and refers to “rice soup”. Laotian rice soup is served with more liquid (broth) than its Chinese cousin the Congee, which is more like a porridge, hence sometimes it is found on Chinese menus as “Rice Porridge”.
Think of Kao Piak as a (kinda) Pho with rice. The starch from the rice will slightly thicken the stock that it is cooked in, giving it more body.
“Kao Piak Sen” is the rice soup served with noodles in place of the rice.
So the conversation continued:
Me: Khamsene, wanna make some noodles?
Sen: Yes Chef!
This wasn’t a planned part of the night as we had finished our Service and cleaned up after a busy night, however, in “good ole Laocook fashion“, we attacked the mission “con mucho gusto“.
Luckily we already had some Iberian Pork Ribs boiling away throughout the evening, so that took care of the stock.
We didn’t have at hand all the ingredients that we would have liked so we made the noodles from Tapioca Flour and boiling water. Ideally we would have liked to have blended the flour with some Rice Flour, but seeing as the Storeman had gone home, there was no access to the storerooms.
Boiling water is slowly added to the flour which is “carefully” mixed to form a dough.
We use a little trick to help the dough along by steaming it for a few minutes in a cloth.
Once it has cooled enough to handle it is kneaded. This is perhaps the most important part of making the noodles.
The better it is kneaded, the better the result will be. If it is not kneaded well enough the result can be brittle noodles instead of the springy and chewy texture that we want.
Instead of painstakingly rolling out the dough, we set up our Pasta Machine (or should it be called a Noodle Machine? ).
We rolled through the dough a few times before putting it through the slicing mechanism.
We used Tapioca Flour for dusting the noodles to stop them from sticking, this also helps to gloriously thicken the finished dish.
Kao Piak Sen is cooked differently to its Rice version, much like a Pho, the stock is brought to a boil then the noodles are added for a few minutes until cooked through, it is then plated and seasoned according to personal taste.
Lots of chopped herbs, a dash or two of Fish Sauce, a pinch of White Pepper, Garlic Oil and an Egg (I have never seen it served with an egg before, it must be an Isaan thing…) .
The final conversation went like this:
Me: So Saki, Happy Birthday, what would you like to drink?
Saki: Champagne! .
Kao Piak Sen and Champagne! A strange combination, but an enjoyable one. .