shan noodles recipe

Shan Noodles

The best Shan Noodles

While Christopher and I were in Nyaung Shwe during our visit to Burma in 2004 (has it been that long?), we came across a small restaurant which served the best Shan noodles. I have eaten many Shan noodles before but what stood out at this particular place was the chicken soup and simplicity of the dish.

Since that day I have been promising myself that one day I shall return to Nyaung Shwe to learn the recipe from the owner, who was more than happy to share. That day has not materialised yet and as it has been a long time since my last Shan noodles, I set out this weekend to recreate what I ate almost 5 years ago.

This Shan noodles recipe is a simple dish: flat rice noodle, chicken soup, chicken, tomatoes, peanuts, young vine of mangetout and sour mustard greens (mon hin chin). Similar to mohingar (traditional fish noodle soup) there are many versions of Shan noodles, sometimes simply called khaut sew or khao soi (noodles in Burmese). Though be aware khao soi in Thailand is a version of the Burmese coconut noodle soup.

With a simple dish such as Shan noodle soup, the key is to start with good quality ingredients. I am using an organic chicken which I strip off the breast meat to use in the sauce, legs and wings I keep for another recipe and the remaining carcass for the soup.

for the Shan noodle soup base

chicken carcass
2 litres water
2 garlic cloves
10 black peppercorns


2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 garlic clove, diced finely
ΒΌ teaspoon chilli powder
180g skinless chicken, minced coarsely
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
large handful baby spinach
375g flat rice noodles, cooked


20g roasted peanuts, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sour mustard greens, chopped

Make the soup first. Place the chicken carcass, garlic, peppercorns and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Allow to simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Skim off any scum and strain through a metal sieve to remove the bones leaving a clear soup. Season with salt.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the chicken sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, stir through until fragrant but without catching colour. In go the chilli powder, diced chicken, tomatoes and soy sauce. Simmer gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and any liquid has disappeared.

Prepare the garnishes and cook the noodles following the packet instructions. Rinse the noodles in plenty of cold water to keep them from clumping together once cooked.

Just before serving throw in the baby spinach into the soup to wilt them. To serve, put the noodles in a bowl, a generous spoonful of chicken, ladle over with soup including the spinach. Sprinkle with garnishes and serve the sour mustard greens separately in a small bowl.

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: 1-2 hours

I would be interested to hear your version of Shan noodles.

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  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) on January 29, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    This is the kind of comfort food soup I love — simple, and with noodles. I’m not sure what sour mustard greens are, so perhaps substituting with another type of dark Asian green would be okay.

    • Cho on February 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Lydia
      Sour mustard greens is pickled mustard greens, a species of mustard plant. Perhaps you could use kimchi to add the tangy spiciness to the dish.
      – Cho

  2. Zaw on February 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Cho,

    The recipe for my Shan noodle sauce is very similar to yours but I put in a tablespoon of ginger and one diced onion. In addition, my mom told me to put a piece of dried amomum tsaoko fruit in the sauce. It releases this nice floral scent and flavor into the sauce. I simmer the sauce for about an hour and add liquid as I need. I remember a Shan noodle shop in Burma in Yangon that put oil infused with amomum tsaoko into their Shan noodles. Instead of a chicken broth, I use a make a thick soup from chickpea powder and water. I use about 2 tablespoons of chickpea powder to 1/3 cup of water. I just let it thicken up on heat and pour that over the noodles.

    • Cho on February 5, 2009 at 12:44 am

      Thanks for your feedback Zaw. I’ll have to try amomum tsaoko in the sauce…sounds great.

  3. [eatingclub] vancouver || js on February 9, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Just a quick note to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying your blog. This noodle soup looks heavenly!

  4. norm from australia on March 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    keep it up ,I think you got something going on there, I love the site. I’ve got an australian wife that eats hotter then me

    • Cho on March 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm

      Thanks Norm

  5. William Leigh on May 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Fantastic, it’s breakfast time here in the UK and that is making me starving!

    I have a pack of mustard greens in the cupboard with no date on them – do they keep for ages? I think I’ve had them maybe 4 months…

    Looking forward to seeing the book.

  6. Mona on July 29, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    My version of Shan Noodles is a salad with garnishes and brothy soup served on the side. Its what you commonly get in Maymyo, Taungyi or Lashio, served with twice-fried tohu puffs.

    Its elaborate, but really festive and yummy! You can server pork rinds or fish wafers (nga-mont-kyaw) on the side for crunch. I’m listing all the ingredients for the dish.


    – thin rice noodles, boiled
    – chicken/pork curry (chicken/pork, ginger, garlic, onion, oil, tomatoes, anise and soy sauce)

    Garnishes for the salad:

    – crispy fried garlic in oil
    – pickled mustard greens, chopped
    – salted soybeans (in the US, we use Yeo’s salted soybeans)
    – fermented tofu sauce, cubes mashed and thinned with water
    – roasted peanuts, chopped
    – dried roasted chili in oil
    – sweet/sour sauce (chili sauce, sugar, garlic and vinegar)
    – blanched bean sprouts
    – fried tofu, cut into bite-size pieces


    – chicken/pork broth
    – garlic
    – ginger
    – black pepper

    • Cho on July 30, 2009 at 12:28 am

      Hi Mona

      Thank you so much for the salad version. I have been looking for Shan Pae Pote. I wonder if this is the same as the salted soybeans you mentioned?

      Best wishes, Cho

  7. miimii on September 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for the clear recipe Cho. I tried it and it was delicious.!!
    Just like my favorite shan noodle shop back in Yangon πŸ˜€
    Im glad i found ur blog.

  8. chaw on February 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I really enjoy watching your videos but I’ve only found just two in youtube… to see more πŸ˜€

  9. Karishma on March 1, 2010 at 5:45 am

    This looks really yummy… how could this be made vegetarian? Vegetable broth? Vege-meat? Tofu?

  10. alven on January 19, 2011 at 9:38 am

    yes karishma it can b vegetarian, just use fried tofu instead of chicken with the same procedures, of course u dnt need to marinate it like chicken

  11. Narinder pal Singh on November 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Great recipe. Will cook tomorrow. Can anyone provide me recipe for Mohn Let Saun ?