Takes: 3-3.5 hrs
For the crispy noodle garnish
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
80g fresh flat wheat-and-egg noodles
For the curry paste
10 large dried chilies (16g total)
20g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
80g shallots, peeled and sliced
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
For the curry
2 black cardamom pods, seeds only, lightly toasted in a dry wok until fragrant, and then ground to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder (this is best done at least a few hours, or up to a day, in advance)
6 whole star anise, toasted and ground as above
60ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp turmeric powder
35g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
800g beef shank, silver skin trimmed and discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp cane sugar
355ml coconut milk
355ml cups coconut cream
300-450g flat wheat-and-egg noodles (depending on how many people you’re cooking for)
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
240g shallots, peeled and sliced
300g pickled mustard greens, sliced
4 limes, cut into wedges
chillies fried in oil (see recipe below), to taste
fish sauce, to taste
1 For the crispy noodle garnish, heat 1½ inches of oil to 160C in a wok over high heat. (If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil is ready when a noodle sizzles instantly in the oil, but it shouldn’t be smoking hot.) Carefully place 20g noodles in the oil, deep-frying for about 30 secs until crispy but not burnt. Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining noodles. When the noodles are cool, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
2 For the curry paste, place the chilies in a small pan, add enough water to cover by a few centimetres and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set the whole thing aside for 15 mins. Drain the chillies, discarding the water, and when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the chilli seeds.
3 Using a pestle and mortar, pound and grind the chillies along with 2 tsp salt until you have a coarse paste. Add the ginger and continue to grind that to a coarse paste. Transfer the mixture to a food processor; add the onions, shallots, and garlic, and blitz to a fine paste. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this step in the pestle and mortar too.)
4 For the curry, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the curry paste, ground black cardamom, ground star anise, turmeric and ginger, and fry for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fragrant and a thin layer of oil has begun to emerge.
5 Increase the heat to medium, add the beef, and fry for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just firm. Add 240ml water, the dark soy sauce and sugar, and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 1 hr. At this point, open the lid slightly and simmer for another 1-1½ hrs until the beef is very tender and a layer of oil has risen to the top. Taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary; the curry should taste meaty and slightly salty, and it should be fragrant from the dried spices. Add a few tablespoons of water, if necessary (the mixture should be thick but somewhat pourable).
6 In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk and coconut cream to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. In a stock pot, bring at least 12cm water to a boil over high heat. Cook roughly 75g noodles per person, according to packet instructions. Drain.
7 Arrange the right number of bowls for people eating and divide the noodles between them. Top with a ladle-full of the beef curry and a ladle-full of the coconut milk mixture. Garnish with the coriander, green onions and crispy fried noodles. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for each bowl.
8 Serve alongside all the garnishes, so each diner can top their own soup.
Chillies in oil
12 large dried chilies (roughly 14 grams total)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Using a pestle and mortar, coffee grinder or food processor, grind the chilies to a relatively fine consistency.
2 Heat the vegetable oil and chilli powder in a wok over medium-low heat. When the oil reaches a simmer, fry for about 10 mins, stirring frequently, until the chilli powder is dark and fragrant, but not burned.
3 Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer the mixture to a glass jar and seal tightly; it can be kept in the fridge for up to a couple months.
These recipes originally appeared in The Food of Northern Thailand, by Austin Bush (£30, Clarkson Potter)
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