that spicy, sour Thai street noodle

that spicy, sour Thai street noodle

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Just came home from an extra long weekend-getaway from Bangkok, my second time visiting this feasting sanctuary and wow, it is even better than I remembered.  I’m not going to play expert and include a traveling guide with this post because when it comes to Bangkok, I’m not, yet.  But I will however, include some links (with or without photos) to some of the memorable moments we experienced on this trip.  It’s not a lot.  After all, it was a 2 1/2 day quickie.  Plus a noodle recipe that brings me back whenever I miss that city, which is to say, always.




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SIAM PARAGON – shopping mall with an entire floor of food paradise



Before you say anything, you’re right, this isn’t authentically anything.  It isn’t a particular Thai dish, doesn’t even have a real title (the fact of the matter is, I didn’t have a clue what most of the dishes we ate were called), but what it is, is a recollected combination of flavours that brings me back to that plastic stool and folding table on a hustle-and-bustle street-corner in Bangkok, hitting the right notes.  The aromatic broth… the strings of supple and chewy rice vermicelli… the crunch somewhere in between… the zing, what’s that?… but wait there comes the heat, then savouriness, sweetness, one after the other, tangled but distinct at the same time, intriguing but too consuming to investigate.  That memory, to me at least, is not an absolution, but a chest of vibrant paints and crayons that splatters beautifully over a blank canvas, different every time but always a balance in perfection.

I went with a cheated version starting with store-bought chicken stock which I then built flavours on top.  But you can of course, applauded, start with pig bones, beef bones, or any combination of broth-builder that you prefer, keeping in mind that as long as you get a grip on the major aromatics and template of flavours, chances are, your noodle just can’t taste bad if not delicious.  Aromatics like lemongrass, galangal, pandang leaves, star anise, kaffir lime leaves… they are, together, a proven equation for a damn good reason.  But what the hell is the “template of flavours” you ask?  Which brings me to say…

Just stick with The Don and The Holy Foursome.

On every tables of every noodle-stalls in Bangkok, almost always and if not you’re entitled to get angry, are a fixed collection of condiments, the paints and crayons if you will, which ultimately determines the flavour profile of every individual bowl of noodles, different and deeply personal to every patron’s preferences.  I call them, The Don and The Holy Foursome:

The godfather himself, kiss his hand, is a bottle of fish sauce – SAVOURINESS.  Then, toasted and crushed chili flakes – HEAT.  Blended fresh chili in vinegar – ACIDITY.  Toasted and crushed peanuts and fried garlics – AROMAS and CRUNCH.  A jar of sugar – SWEETNESS.

Always.  Always.  Respect them, but be playful.  I always like mine with high pitch in heat and acidity, with a good dose on aromas and crunch, then subtle on sweetness, but I’ve also seen others dousing sugars over their noodles like it’s breakfast cereals.  And, of course, a dash of The Don is always an offer you can’t refuse.

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Serving Size: 6~8 depending


  • 3 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 5~6 (21 grams) mix of red and green Thai chili
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) white rice vinegar (not Japanese sushi vinegar)
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 7 cups (1750 grams/ml) chicken stock
  • 3 lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 1" galangal, roughly chopped
  • 2 frozen pandang leaves, roughly cut
  • 2 " cinnamon stick
  • 4~5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 1 large handful of cilantro stems
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 8~10 Asian pork or beef meatballs
  • 2 (340 grams) skinless boneless chicken legs
  • 1 (30 grams) lemongrass, white parts only
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2~3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • rice vermicelli, variety depends on your preference
  • Thai basils and bean sprouts
  • sugar and fish sauce to season
  • MSG


  1. MAKE TOASTED CHILI FLAKES: Mix chili flakes and vegetable oil together in a skillet until it resembles wet sand. Set over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn darker in color and smells fragrant. Transfer immediately into a bowl to cool (it will burn quickly and become bitter).
  2. MAKE BLENDED CHILI VINEGAR: Over stove-flames or with a torch, char the skins of the chilis until completely blackened, then scrap away the black skins and seeds with a small knife and discard. Blend the chilis with vinegar and sugar in a blender until coarsely pureed. Set aside until needed.
  3. FRIED GARLIC AND TOASTED PEANUTS: Combine finely minced garlic and vegetable oil in a small pot over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlics start to turn light brown in color (this will take a few minute)(*don't let them turn dark brown or they'll be bitter*). Drain immediately through a fine sieve and let cool. Reserve the oil. Once the garlics are cooled, pound them together with roasted peanuts in a mortar until coarsely ground.
  4. MAKE THE BROTH: Blend a couple cups of chicken stock with lemongrass, galangal and pandang leaves until coarsely blended. Transfer into a large pot with the rest of the chicken stock, along with cinnamon stick, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro stems, star anise, reserved garlic oil, dark soy sauce, ground white pepper, light brown sugar and ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 min, then add the fish sauce and meat balls, and cook for another 10 min.
  5. Meanwhile, make the minced lemongrass chicken: Cut the chicken into small pieces then set aside. In a food-processor, blend lemongrass and ginger until finely chopped. Add the chicken, fish sauce, ground white and black pepper, and pulse until the mixture is finely ground (like sausage consistency). Add 2 tbsp of the reserved garlic oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kaffir lime leaves and cook until fragrant, then add the chicken-mixture, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until slightly browned on all edges. Set aside until needed.
  6. TO ASSEMBLE: On the table, arrange a bottle of fish sauce, a small jar of light brown sugar, toasted chili flakes, blended chili vinegar, fried garlic/roasted peanuts, and a couple bunch of fresh Thai basils.
  7. Cook the rice vermicelli according to instructions and divide into bowls, with a small handful of bean sprouts and a good pinch of MSG (that's how it's done, ok? that's how it's done). Pour the broth into the bowl through a fine sieve, then add a couple of meatballs and a good large spoonful of minced lemongrass chicken into each bowls. Adjust your own season with the condiments then slurp.


This broth can be built on store-bought chicken stock, or from scratch with pork bones and water.

  • Yvonne

    June 15, 2016 at 5:46 PM Reply

    Is MSG 100% necessary ? Will it taste that much lesser without it ?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 15, 2016 at 6:39 PM Reply

      Yvonne, any street foods, unfortunately, will taste lesser without MSG :(

  • Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands

    June 15, 2016 at 6:45 PM Reply

    That duck noodle with herbs looks insane! I clicked on the Google maps link and saw it was a road…this was actually bought on the streets? Insane quality…

  • george

    June 15, 2016 at 7:53 PM Reply

    It all look totally utterly & insanely delicious.. Im dying here… Love that you shared the map for each location – Thank you!

  • Tori//Gringalicious

    June 15, 2016 at 8:25 PM Reply

    O-M-GOODNESS! These photos are stunning, as are these crazy delicious-sounding noodles! Count me in!

  • Julia

    June 15, 2016 at 10:57 PM Reply

    Your photos are fantastic! (And so are the dishes!) Thanks for sharing. I’ll keep this in mind for my next trip to Bangkok!

  • Eleanor

    June 16, 2016 at 2:21 AM Reply

    it just occurred to me the other day that your photos have got the best use of chiaroscuro on any food blog that i’ve come across, they’re so distinct and dynamic! great recipe, that stock + the chili vinegar seems like a lethal combination.

  • Karen

    June 16, 2016 at 12:01 PM Reply

    Love your posts! Probably bc you have the same bizarre wit/sense of humor I do.. :) Also, yum!

  • James | The Nude-Food Hero

    June 17, 2016 at 12:26 PM Reply

    OK so now I just want to be back in Bangkok and eating all kinds of street food… just a bite or two of everything that is on this page! Also, I would like to be living in a place where a 2 day trip to Bangkok could be a feasible thing… But alas, my kitchen will suffice for all things Thai for now and I will stop whinging! Awesome photos and post as always. certainly saving for later.

  • RZoolander

    June 21, 2016 at 8:39 PM Reply

    I have a confession to make – I have been lurking on your food blog for almost a year. I have made about 12 of your recipes – everything has been fantastic. All 12 of them have become staples at our house. Your writing style speaks to me – as a native New Yorker, I love your honest in your face style. Your blog is definitely the best food blog I have ever visited. This morning I went back through all your archives and made a list of about 50 recipes I plan to do this summer. Well, gotta go and pick up the tofu to make your Mapo Tofu recipe – excellent recipe and thank you very much for such an outstanding blog!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 22, 2016 at 12:45 AM Reply

      Derick (Zoolander), may I call you that, hahaa mapo tofu is one of my favorite! Thanks and I hope you keep having fun here. That’s what it’s all about.

  • Alexandra

    June 22, 2016 at 5:49 AM Reply

    Your photos of Bangkok are absolutely stunning. They really bring out the life and energy of the place. Well done!

  • Paige

    June 25, 2016 at 5:26 PM Reply

    Well You & your S.O. have done it again. Of course! Expected nothing less than wonderful….?question? The DON….is this fish sauce? Does it have the name that I’ll butcher but something like NukMom…? See, told you I’d NOT spell that correctly. Just super wonder! Have a great weekend. I love the photos if I failed to mention and your BOWLS!

  • Lynda S.

    June 26, 2016 at 6:27 PM Reply

    Your photos of Bangkok are absolutely amazing. Bangkok really hits home as I used to visit there all the time as a kid. They really bring out the lifestyle. Great job!

  • Teri Giese

    June 27, 2016 at 2:44 AM Reply

    Found you on Pinterest,beautiful everything!Slowly,meticulously building my boards.Only since 12/15.Love,want,and need more diverse recipes!55 years young,and a very bored palate!?

  • RZoolander

    July 2, 2016 at 5:40 AM Reply

    Another excellent recipe. This blog rocks!

  • Sabrina

    July 20, 2016 at 7:14 PM Reply

    Awesome recipe! These noodles look scrumptious!

  • Heather

    July 30, 2016 at 7:57 AM Reply

    I love your recipes! This one was great too, but I’m going to have to make it again – I got fresh pandan leaves but when I got home I found they were moldy! And I could not find galangal at any of my Asian grocery stores, ugh!

  • Jenny

    September 19, 2016 at 6:15 AM Reply

    Hi Mandy,

    Your pictures are stunning and the recipes look so interesting. I will have to hunt for all the ingredients but cant wait to try some of the recipes here. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anna Wright

    February 17, 2017 at 1:50 PM Reply

    YUM YUM YUM!!! I made this recipe on my son’s birthday party and people RAVED about it! I made it per your directions and it was wonderful. I even gave you credit for making me shine! THANK YOU!

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