Backpacking across Indonesia for a month was one of the highlights of my pre-pandemic life. It was insanely spontaneous, and I am not sure I would be stoked if my kids wanted to do the same. I had no plan, except to meet up with a guy I’d been chatting up that I had met traveling through Vietnam the previous year… and to eat all the street food, obviously.
You get to know a lot about someone when you travel with them. I am no life coach, but I highly recommend any two people considering committing to each other to go on a trip. And no, I do not mean going to an all inclusive resort where everyone speaks your language, laying in the lap of luxury. It needs to be stressful, span distance in the location, and involve little to no reservations. This offers great insight into what type of team member they are. You get to see how you work together when times are less than ideal. You may even learn what it’s like when good hygiene isn’t possible, or someone gets sick.
This trip was fabulous because I got to experience all types of things with this person, and when we separated at the airport to fly to our respective countries, I knew in no uncertain terms that would be the last time I would want to see him. Though he and I were not destined to be together, I was most certainly destined to eat every street food dish across the country and bring these flavors home with me. I have been feeling nostalgic this week, and have been cooking all the Indo-classics with a local CSA spin. One of my favorites was Soto Ayam, which is a spicy, citrusy, chicken noodle soup. This is a version I made with what’s in season and more commonly available in Central Oregon. It was oh so good. I hope you enjoy!
Soto Ayam (Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup)
1 ½ lbs chicken thigh (or whatever cut you like), seared and diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced, or slightly less powder
1 Tbsp fresh turmeric, minced, or slightly less powder
2 Tbsp sesame oil
A couple Thai chilies, sliced thin, or few dashes chili flake (spicy to taste)
Salt to taste
Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce into a smooth puree.
In a large pan, boil water and remove from heat. Add the glass noodles and let sit for about 5 minutes until al dente. Strain and set aside.
Return the pan to medium high heat and sear the chicken with a little fat of your choice until golden brown and juicy, about 3 minutes on each side. Set aside to rest, then dice.
Add the chicken stock to the pan with the sauce and bring to just below a boil with carrots and the white parts of the green onion.
After about 3 minutes, add the cabbage.
After about 3 more minutes, add the chopped chicken, noodles, and green onion tops.
When all the flavors meld and get all tasty for a minute, serve, topped with basil and cilantro (optional are a scoop of chili sambal if you would like some more heat, or a soft boiled egg to make the soup creamy)