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Khao Piak Sen – Authentic Lao Tapioca Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Learn how to make the Lao style chicken noodle soup called khao piak sen. It’s a comforting tapioca noodle served in a flavorful and aromatic chicken broth.

Khao piak sen is a traditional Lao noodle soup that is great on a gray sky or rainy day. It literally is the Lao version of the American chicken noodle soup staple known nationwide. This version calls for some additional ingredients in the broth along with an amazing, homemade thick noodle.

This soup stands out because of it’s inherent simplicity because it requires just a handful of ingredients for both making the broth in addition to making the noodles from scratch.

While it is a pretty lengthy stew time of a little over an hour for the amazing broth, this dish is well worth it. 

Lao Khao Piak Sen Noodles

All About Khao Piak Sen

What is khao piak sen?

Khao Piak sen is a traditional Lao noodle made of broth stewed with chicken, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, ginger, and soy sauce. The noodles are made of tapioca flour, rice flour, and rice water that is cut up into narrow strands that are then added to the broth cooked just a few minutes before serving.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

What does khao piak sen mean?

It roughly translates to wet rice noodles in Lao.

  • khao means rice
  • piak means wet
  • sen means noodles

When is traditionally served?

It is often served as a hearty breakfast in Lao culture, but can truly be served for lunch or dinner for a hearty meal.

In addition, khao piak is generally made to be served at large family gatherings, Lao New Year, and other family social events.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Where does khao piak originate?

This delicious soup originates in Lao, but many Southeast Asian regions have their own version of it. An example of a variation of khao piak includes Vietnamese banh canh soup.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

What are variations of khao piak sen?

Another version of khao piak sen is using rice with a similar broth. The rice version is called khao piak khao.

What’s the difference between Khao Piak Sen and Khao Piak Khao?

Khao piak refers to how the infusion of the broth is made whereas the latter part that refers to khao or sen refers to whether rice or noodles are used. Khao piak sen is made by using tapioca based noodles and khao piak khao is made using jasmine rice that turns into a rice porridge.

Frequently Asked Questions About Khao Piak

What does khao piak taste like?

Khao piak sen tastes like chewy, fresh noodles in an aromatic chicken broth. The noodles are cooked directly in the chicken broth which allows the starches to be released in order to provide a thicker broth consistency. It is garnished with shredded chicken, green onions, cilantro, and fried garlic. Additional toppings of fried garlic chilli oil, fried shallots, and  fish sauce provide a more personalized flavor profile. 

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

What are the noodles in Khao piak made of?

Lao khao piak sen are hand cut rice noodles made from rice flour and tapioca flour. Khao piak sen is known as tapioca noodles in English.

What are the main ingredients in khao piak sen?

Khao piak sen includes chicken broth, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, garlic, and lemongrass.

The noodles are thick, chewy and are often made fresh specific to the dish to allow for the starch to thicken up the chicken broth.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Can khao piak noodles be substituted for udon noodles?

While substituting khao piak sen noodles would not provide the same starchiness and chewy texture that is provided with the traditional method, udon noodles and rice noodle sheets can be used.

Is khao piak sen gluten free?

Yes, the noodles of khao piak sen is gluten free.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Tools Needed for Making Khao Piak Sen

Mixer with Dough Attachment

The noodles for khao piak sen is super easy to make. To save yourself from trouble of burning your hands from the required hot water to mix the rice and tapioca flour, use a mixer with a dough attachment if possible. This is the exact one I use.

Roller

You’ll need a roller to roll out the dough. I use a cutting board that has tapioca flour sprinkled all over in order to roll over it.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Asian Grocery Shopping List

As always, I share with you the ingredient you’ll need to get in order to make this dish that is specific to getting at an Asian grocery store. Below is what I would recommend:

Lemongrass

Get a bunch of lemongrass, as this will be needed for your broth.

Galangal 

Fresh galangal is preferred, but if you want to just have it on hand, I would just get the dried version. It’s a great substitute if you don’t have lemongrass or kaffir leaves on hand.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Kaffir Lime Leaves

These will be in the refrigerated section of the store. If you don’t have these, it’s okay, you can leave it out.

Cilantro bunch with stems

Cilantro is way less expensive at the Asian grocer, grab them there since you are there. If you can find cilantro with roots, use those (make sure you wash well). This will add a depth of flavor that makes this soup absolutely incredible.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Squid Brand Fish Sauce

I find that the fish sauce brands that are sold in western stores are stronger and more pungent, so I would recommend grabbing Squid fish brand while you are there.

Fried Shallots

A jar of these will pretty much last you the entire year.

Rice flour

This is in the powdered section. It’s the one in the red bag. This one is different than those by Bob’s Red Mill that you’ll find in local western stores because the ones at the Asian grocer because the rice flour is more absorbent.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Tapioca flour

This is also in the powdered section, often right next to the rice flower. It’s the one in the blue bag.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Fresh Herbs

In Vietnamese dishes, fresh herbs are always recommended to be topped in a dish, generally. I would recommend grabbing green onion, Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil, birds eye chilis, bean sprouts and lime as accompaniments to this dish, while not required.

What You Need to Know Before Cooking Khao Piak Sen – Tips and Tricks

Before you make this dish, I just wanted to share a few of my best tips to get started on making khao piak sen. While it is definitely an easy dish, I just wanted you to have these tips before getting started:

  • The secret to making delicious Lao style tapioca chicken noodle soup is that the broth needs to be stewed with chicken parts with skin on for at least an hour on low.
  • While lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves totally make the broth, you can still omit it and have a great tasting broth.
  • The cilantro stems and charred onion are key to this recipe.
  • Having a mixer on hand will also save your delicate hands from having to mix the dough.
  • Charring the onion and ginger is important because it adds a level of umami to the broth. lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup
  • Boiling water is required for this recipe. If the water does not get hot enough, the dough will crumble easily and will not allow it to be elastic enough to cut cleanly.
  • You can use a pizza cutter to cut the noodles if you don’t have a flat bladed knife.
  • While there are various ratios that you’ll find for khao piak sen, I’ve found that there are personal preferences on how chewy or soft people like their khao piak sen noodles. Below are the rice flour:tapioca ratio and what I’ve found:
    • 1:1 – the tapioca noodles are too soft and feel really slimy
    • 1:1.3 – the tapioca noodles still feel a little soft and more chewy
    • 1:1.5 – the tapioca noodles have the right subtle balance of soft, chewy, and not slimy at all
    • 1:2 – The noodles are way to chewy and tough

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

How to Make Khao Piak Sen

Ingredients for Lao Khao Piak Sen

Rice Noodle Dough

  • 1 ½ cup of tapioca flour
  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 2 cups of boiling water

Soup Stock

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 6 cilantro stems, leaves removed
  • 1 onion, charred
  • 6 slices of ginger medallions
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 lemongrass heads, smashed
  • 4 chicken bullion
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Garnishes

  • cilantro, chopped
  • green onion, chopped
  • fried shallots, to taste
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • lime, wedged to taste
  • oiled pepper, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions on Making Lao Khao Piak Sen 

Step 1 – Chicken Broth Preparation

  1. Add the water to a pot and bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the paper layer of the onion, and then char the onion on the stove. Make sure you stay watching it so it doesn’t catch fire.
  3. Once the water boils, add the cilantro, onion, sliced ginger medallions, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, gangal, chicken bullion, chicken breast, and chicken thighs into the boiling water. lao khao piak sen authentic noodle souplao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup
  4. Lower it to medium-high heat. While the water is simmering and stewing, you can begin making your noodles while ensuring that you skim any excess fat and froth from the chicken during the simmering process.
  5. After an hour, remove the chicken from the broth, place it in a bowl, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator so you can easily shred it without burning your hands (30 minutes).
  6. Shred the chicken by hand and set aside.lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Step 2 – Rice Noodle Preparation

  1. Add together the rice flour and tapioca starch in the mixer bowl. lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup
  2. Add the boiling water into the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. If you are using an automatic mixer, set it on level 2 for about 2 minutes. Take care to not allow the batter to cool, or it will make the mixture difficult to handle.
  3. Using your hands, roll the dough into softball sized spheres. Next, roll the spheres out into 1/4 inch flat surface. lao khao piak sen authentic noodle souplao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup
  4. Flour the dough with the tapioca flour, and cut the noodles to your desired thickness (I recommend 1/4 inch width).lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup
  5. Once cut, sprinkle more flour on top of them and set in a rimmed sheet, dust with the tapioca flour to prevent sticking. lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soupIf you are making a large batch, cover it with a damp towel to keep the noodles from drying out.
  6. Continue for the remaining dough.

Step 3 – Mixing the Noodles and the Broth

  1. When the stock is ready, get out a separate smaller pot for the servings you are wanting to make.
  2. Add the broth stock and bring it to a rolling boil.
  3. Next, add the rice noodles directly into the chicken broth stock and allow it to cook for 2 minutes or until the noodles float to the top of the pot. (Note: Stir minimally as the noodles are brittle until they are cooked all the way through.)lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Step 4 – Serving Khao Piak Sen

  1. Transfer the khao piak sen into a serving bowl. 
  2. Garnish with fried shallots, cilantro, green onion, fried shallots, black pepper, and 2-3 dashes of soy sauce.
  3. You can add bean sprouts, fish sauce, chilli oil, lime, and any additional herbs for a personalized flavor.

Recipe Note

If you do not want to thicken up the soup broth too much because of the tapioca starch on the noodles, you can cook the noodles in a pot first, drain the noodles, and add it into the chicken broth with the rest of the garnish.

Make-Ahead, Leftovers, and Storage of Khao Piak Sen Noodles

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Leftover Khao Piak Noodles

Cooked Khao Piak Noodles

Leftover cooked khao piak sen noodles can be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days, no longer than that.

Uncooked Khao Piak Noodles

To preserve the noodles, portion the uncooked khao piak sen noodles by laying them flat inside a freezer bag. Lay the freezer bag flat for up to 30 days.

Do not store khao piak sen noodles in the refrigerator as they will not keep. Likely, they’ll become wet and start sticking to one another.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Preserving the Khao Piak Sen Broth

The khao piak sen chicken broth can be portioned into storage containers or freezer bags after cooling. If you are storing them in a freezer bag, you can save space by laying it flat with the added benefit of being able to evenly reheat the broth later at a quicker rate.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Authentic Lao Khao Piak Sen

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Learn how to make this comforting Lao chicken noodle soup called khao piak sen. It is a flavorful, aromatic noodle dish that is absolutely wonderful!

Ingredients

Rice Noodle Dough

  • 1 ½ cup of tapioca flour
  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 2 cups of boiling water

Soup Stock

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 6 cilantro stems, leaves removed
  • 1 onion, charred
  • 6 slices of ginger medallions
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 lemongrass heads, smashed
  • 4 chicken bullion
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Garnishes

  • cilantro, chopped
  • green onion, chopped
  • fried shallots, to taste
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • lime, wedged to taste
  • oiled pepper, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Chicken Broth Preparation

  1. Add the water to a pot and bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the paper layer of the onion, and then char the onion on the stove. Make sure you stay watching it so it doesn't catch fire.
  3. Once the water boils, add the cilantro, onion, sliced ginger medallions, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, gangal, chicken bullion, chicken breast, and chicken thighs into the boiling water.
  4. Lower it to medium-high heat. While the water is simmering and stewing, you can begin making your noodles while ensuring that you skim any excess fat and froth from the chicken during the simmering process.
  5. After an hour, remove the chicken from the broth, place it in a bowl, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator so you can easily shred it without burning your hands (30 minutes).
  6. Shred the chicken by hand and set aside.

Rice Noodle Preparation

  1. Add together the rice flour and tapioca starch in the mixer bowl.
  2. Add the boiling water into the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. If you are using an automatic mixer, set it on level 2 for about 2 minutes. Take care to not allow the batter to cool, or it will make the mixture difficult to handle.
  3. Using your hands, roll the dough into softball sized spheres. Next, roll the spheres out into 1/4 inch flat surface. 
  4. Flour the dough with the tapioca flour, and cut the noodles to your desired thickness (I recommend 1/4 inch width).
  5. Once cut, sprinkle more flour on top of them and set in a rimmed sheet, dust with the tapioca flour to prevent sticking. If you are making a large batch, cover it with a damp towel to keep the noodles from drying out.
  6. Continue for the remaining dough.

Mixing the Noodles and the Broth

  1. When the stock is ready, get out a separate smaller pot for the servings you are wanting to make.
  2. Add the broth stock and bring it to a rolling boil.
  3. Next, add the rice noodles directly into the chicken broth stock and allow it to cook for 2 minutes or until the noodles float to the top of the pot. (Note: Stir minimally as the noodles are brittle until they are cooked all the way through.)

Serving Khao Piak Sen

  1. Transfer the khao piak sen into a serving bowl. 
  2. Garnish with fried shallots, cilantro, green onion, fried shallots, black pepper, and 2-3 dashes of soy sauce.
  3. You can add bean sprouts, fish sauce, chilli oil, lime, and any additional herbs for a personalized flavor.

Notes

If you do not want to thicken up the soup broth too much because of the tapioca starch on the noodles, you can cook the noodles in a pot first, drain the noodles, and add it into the chicken broth with the rest of the garnish.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 440Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 598mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 33g

Summary

Khao piak sen is a delicious dish that is great on any weeknight, but especially when you need a comforting meal.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

This Lao chicken noodle soup is sure to delight someone who wants a hearty soup with the flavors of its signature viscosity of khao piak sen’s broth, the chewy, yet delicious texture of the noodles, and the array of toppings that allow anyone to customize their flavors to varying degrees to suit every taste bud.

lao khao piak sen authentic noodle soup

Other Southeast Asian Noodles

If you liked this recipe for Lao khao piak sen noodles, you may also enjoy the following recipes:

 

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