Kaeng par curry paste brings the heat in this easy kaeng par noodle soup that you can throw together any day of the week.
I’ve mentioned many times that I am a religiously devoted fan of Maesri brand curry pastes. Any time I’m at Hmart, I grab a few at random. Usually, I use the picture on the front of the can to guide how I decide to make it, and I try to read about the paste to keep my dinner somewhat in line with the original intent of the curry.
This week, I broke open the kaeng par curry paste, and it may be my new favorite from Maesri.
What is kaeng par?
Also called jungle curry, you may see it spelled as kaeng pa or gaeng pa. It translates to Thai curry (kaeng) and jungle (pa).
Why is it called jungle curry? This fiery, water-based curry is not made with coconut milk since it originated in the forested jungles of northern Thailand, where there are no coconuts. I also read that coconuts may have been omitted to keep costs down. Maybe both can be true at the same time.
Historically, wild boar was a common protein of choice for the curry, but nowadays it’s often prepared with chicken or pork. Any protein will work well with this spicy curry!
I read about jungle curry on Hot Thai Kitchen. Her recipe showed how it’s made with lots of vegetables like baby corn, eggplant, green beans, and holy basil. I used what I had in my crisper—red bell pepper, cabbage, and carrots.
How to make kaeng par noodle soup:
I’ll preface this recipe by saying that I don’t know if it’s particularly common to serve jungle curry with noodles. Most of the photos I see serve it with cooked jasmine rice. Next time, I will follow Hot Thai Kitchen’s approach and use the vegetables she recommends and serve it over rice instead. That said, I sure did love the noodles in this!
What you need
- Kaeng par curry paste: This is the backbone of the soup. You can follow Hot Thai Kitchen’s recipe or you can buy Maesri brand Kaeng Par Curry Paste. If you don’t have kaeng par paste, you can use red curry paste and add a few extra minced chilies to get that classic fiery flavor. Or if you’re not amenable to heat, just use your favorite red curry paste.
- Ground chicken or ground pork: You can use thinly sliced pork or chicken thighs, but I love ground meat for a quick weeknight meal.
- Aromatics and vegetables: I use a sliced shallot, scallions, carrots, sliced bell pepper, and chopped Napa cabbage. You can use eggplant and green beans or throw in some chopped broccoli florets.
- Garnishes: I garnish with Thai basil, minced cilantro, and scallion greens. You can top it with crispy shallots, but I used sesame seeds for a little bit of crunch at the end. Lime wedges add a nice acidity that works so well with the spiciness of the soup, so I highly recommend serving it with lime!
- Noodles: Use your favorite noodle here, or serve with white or brown rice instead.
How to make it
- Step 1: Start by frying the chicken in oil. Once it’s mostly cooked, add the shallot, scallions, and curry paste and toss to coat. Continue cooking until the curry paste becomes fragrant.
- Step 2: From there, simply add water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the carrots, bell peppers, and cabbage. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the carrots are tender.
- Step 3: Meanwhile, cook up the noodles and drain them or make a pot of rice.
- Step 4: As the soup finishes simmering, prepare all your desired garnishes and arrange them on a platter.
- Step 5: You’re ready to serve! Divide the rice or noodles between bowls and ladle the kaeng par on top. Serve with your favorite garnishes on top and enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. If you make it, please drop a comment below to let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.
Kaeng Par Noodle Soup
- Large pot
- Medium pot
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 4- ounce can kaeng par curry paste (see note)
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced into wedges
- 5 scallions, trimmed and minced; white and green parts kept separate
- 5 cups water or chicken stock
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 1 bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and sliced into strips
- ½ pound Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
- 8 ounces noodles of choice or cooked white rice for serving
- Thai basil leaves, minced cilantro, lime wedges, crispy shallots or sesame seeds
Cook the chicken:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up, for 12–15 minutes until mostly cooked through. Season with salt.
Fry the paste:
- Add the curry paste, shallot, and scallion whites to the pot. Toss to coat the chicken in the paste and cook for 2–3 minutes until the paste is very fragrant.
Simmer the soup:
- Pour in the water or stock. Add the carrots, bell pepper, and cabbage. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Cook the noodles or rice:
- As the curry simmers, cook the noodles or rice according to package instructions. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate and keep warm.
Prepare the garnishes:
- Before serving, prepare your desired garnishes and arrange them on a serving dish.
- Divide the noodles or rice between bowls. Ladle the kaeng par on top. Garnish with the reserved green parts of the scallions and any other herbs or toppings you like. Enjoy!