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  • 2 tsp sunflower oil

  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped

  • a pea-sized piece Thai shrimp paste (blachan)

  • 2 lemongrass stalks

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves - or strip of pared lime rind

  • 1.2 litres/2 pint fresh chicken stock

  • 75g/3oz dried medium egg noodles

  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

  • 1 lime, juice only (about 2 tsp)

  • ½ medium-hot red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

  • 2.5ml/½ tsp light muscovado sugar

  • 50g/2oz fresh spinach or pak choi, cut into 2.5cm/1in wide strips

  • a handful fresh coriander leaves


  • 1.

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

  • 2.

    Add the garlic and shrimp paste and fry gently over a medium heat for 1 minute.

  • 3.

    Meanwhile, lightly crush the lemon grass stalks with a rolling pin or the blade of a large knife.

  • 4.

    To make the soup add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and chicken stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

  • 5.

    Meanwhile , drop the noodles into a pan of boiling water, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 4 minutes, before draining.

  • 6.

    To refine the soup, strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, return to the pan and add the fish sauce, lime juice, red chilli and sugar.

  • 7.

    Simmer for 3 minutes.

  • 8.

    Add the egg noodles and spinach, or pak choi and simmer for a further 30 seconds.

  • 9.

    Finally, ladle into bowls, dividing the noodles equally between them and scatter over the coriander leaves.

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