For the curry paste:
10 medium-sized red shallots, unpeeled
30g fresh turmeric root, unpeeled
60g ginger root, peeled
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
10 dried long red chillies
3 tsp coriander seeds
a good pinch of salt
6 coriander roots (or a handful of coriander stems)
1.2kg fresh egg noodles (or 400g dried egg noodles)
1.6l coconut milk
2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
4 tbsp fish sauce
6 tsp sweet soy sauce (Ketjap Manis)
1,5l chicken stock (last version was 1.2 but I found it a tad too creamy)
1 black cardamom pod
2 pandan leaves tied into a knot
8-16 deboned chicken thighs (depending on how much meat you want per person)
Pickled mustard greens, sliced*
Red shallots, sliced
Spring onions, sliced
For the curry paste:
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Roast the paste ingredients: Put the shallots onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for 20mins, turning regularly, so they get charred. After 10mins, pop the turmeric, ginger and garlic cloves and roast for the remaining 10 minutes. You want everything to be a bit charred to release flavour. Take out of the oven and leave to cool so that they’re cool enough to handle. Peel the shallot and garlic and roughly chop all the ingredients.
While the ingredients are in the oven, cut open the dried chillies, remove the seeds and soak in hot water for 10 minutes until soft.
Roast the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Grind in a pestle and mortar, put into a small bowl and set aside.
Drain the chillies and put into the pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt. Pound into a paste. Gradually add the shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric and coriander roots pounding everything into a paste between additions. You might want to throw everything in a mini blender in the end to get a smooth paste – but pound the ingredients first, as it will bash the fibres instead of just shredding them.
For the fried noodle nest:
Fill a heavy saucepan or wok with enough oil to shallow-fry. Heat the oil to 180°C. Divide 200g of fresh egg noodles into 8 little portions. Fry each portion for a few minutes in the hot oil until crispy and golden and drain on some kitchen paper. Set aside the noodle nests until serving.
(If you’re using dried noodles, you will need to boil the noodles first and leave them to steam until completely dry and cold before deep-frying).
To make the dish:
Simmer 200ml of coconut milk until it starts to ‘crack’ (until it is thick and starting to separate). Fry the curry paste in the coconut cream for about 5 minutes.
Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, remaining coconut milk, stock, black cardamom pod, pandan leaves and the chicken, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 hour until the chicken is really soft. Adjust the seasoning with a bit of lime juice and fish sauce if needed.
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain and distribute between a few bowls. Top each with ladles of curry and some chicken. Put a fried noodle nest on top, then garnish each bowl with mustard greens, shallots, coriander, spring onions and add a lime wedge and serve.
*In order to prep store-bought pickled Chinese mustard greens, rinse them thoroughly under a cold tap. If the taste is still too strong you can soak them in more cold water for a while.