Basic Burmese kyay oh (475 calories per serve)

‘Kyay oh’ is one of my favourite comfort foods. I described it to my husband as the Burmese equivalent of the Vietnamese noodle soup, ‘pho’. Whereas ‘pho’ is commonly made with beef, ‘kyay oh’ is made with pork and served with a variety of toppings such as pork liver, pork intestine and quail eggs. I like it without these extras and therefore prefer it as a ‘basic’ kyay oh. If you are adding on extra ingredients, you can halve the pork ball mixture.

Serves 4

Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 1.5 hour

160g rice vermicelli (dry weight)
200g choi sum, chopped
For the broth:
200g pork ribs
2 tsp chicken powder/stock (use Knorr brand)
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 star anise
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2L water (plus more for top up)
Fish sauce to taste
For the pork balls:
500g minced pork
Dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
1 egg
Salt to taste
Optional ingredients (not included in calorie count):
Boiled quail eggs
Pork intestines
Pork liver
Fish balls

Wash and parboil the pork ribs in a large pot and drain. Bring the ribs back to the oil with 2L of water. Add the soup spices, preferably in a spice bag (similar to a tea bag), and let it boil for an hour.

After an hour, remove the spices from the soup retaining the broth. If you are using a spice bag, you can simply remove the bag. If you are not, you will need to run the broth through a fine colander or carefully spoon out the spices.

Meanwhile, prepare the pork ball mixture by mixing all the pork ball ingredients together. It should form a soft, malleable paste.

Prepare the rice vermicelli according to packet instructions and place into 4 bowls.

Blanch the choi sum and place into the prepared bowls.

Before serving, bring the broth to the boil and spoon the pork ball mixture into batches (approx. one serving size at a time). The pork balls are cooked once they float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork balls and place into the prepared bowls. You may also want to add the pork ribs but that is optional.

Top the prepared bowls with the broth, filling up to cover the noodles and serve immediately. You may want to serve with some chilli sauce and fried onions but they are optional.

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