Guay Tiew Neau Nam Khon (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) / Kuai Tiao Ruea (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ)
“Guay Tiew” (or Kuai Tiao) is Thai for “noodles” and noodles there are a’ plenty in Thailand. “Ruea” means boat which is where it was traditionally made and served. On my first trek over to Bangkok I instantly fell in love with Thai boat noodle. It simply brought my body back into something life-like after either a hard day’s night, a long plane flight or simply just feeling like an ex-pat. The deep dark beef stock, blood, carbs, herbs, all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids in between are perfect for my palate.
One of my all time favorite Thai boat noodle places was right down the street from where I used to live in Bangkok on Soi 31 called “Noodern”. I hope it’s still there with that incredibly satisfying “Guay Tiew”.
Now given, during my stint in Thailand I sampled myriad of noodles. I went to most of the islands, Samuthprakarn, Chiang Mai, Damnoen Saduak Market, down the coast on both sides and all over the City of Smiles. I picked my place purely on taste and not proximity. Noodern was just consistently delicious and since it was four blocks away that made it a winner. They had a broth that was dark, rich and bursting with flavors. They also used to make their own Chicharrón which was a nice touch.
This boat noodle recipe is modeled after them and now every time I make this recipe it is somewhat of a ritual for me. Not only in the preparation but the cooking and even how I plate it. It takes me to a a very comfortable place and one I am willing to share with you.
Making the Boat Noodle Beef Stock
Homemade stock can be both delicious and quite medicinal (great article here). Between all the aromatics and the bones, these soups, broths, stocks have a ton of important minerals and building blocks for a healthy diet. My approach to beef stock is using large femurs cut in thirds.
Heads Up: Please make sure you have made the beef stock way ahead of time. I make massive batches in the slow cooker and flash freeze liters of it. Follow my beef bone stock guide here. There are no secrets. It’s all about process and time.
Thai Boat Noodle Soup Base
Start your slow cooker. Turn it on high. I don’t want a pressure cooker for this. I want a slow rolling mix of ingredients; constantly churning and giving the broth everything it has, everything it could be.
Culinary notes: Galangal has this great piney taste that is just amazing. Please don’t substitute that. Ginger simply does not have the same taste. The molasses adds a nice burnt sugar cane taste which is super popular in Thailand.
You can essentially throw everything except for the beef blood in the slow cooker on high with the beef stock. Come back in 2 hours, pour it through a fine sieve and then put the broth/stock back into the crockpot and put it on low. Your base/soup is done. Taste it. It should not be too salty at this point but should already echo some amazing flavors.
At this stage you need to add in the beef tendon if you have it. It will take many hours to render this down to something palatable but totally worth it. Put the timer on 3 hours. Come back and check on it. It should be firm, chewy, jelly-like. You are almost done.
Toss in some super thin slices of beef steak (12 slices) lightly brushed with fish sauce and garlic powder. I buy this type of beef at the Asian mart since they slice this ultra thin for dishes like Shabu Shabu, Korean BBQ and Chinese Hot Pot. It only takes about 1 minute for the beef to cook.
You should have already prepped all your garnishes and condiments below. Go ahead and drop some rice noodles in boiling water for about thirty seconds. They should be firm and chewy and will cook the rest of the way in the steaming bowl of broth.
Plating Your Boat Noodle
It’s just not a proper boat noodle without the beef balls, super thin sliced beef and veggies. I always add Chinese celery to mine as it’s simply the perfect, refreshing, slightly bitter accompaniment to the beef.
- Super thinly sliced sheets of raw beef round seasoned with a little garlic powder and fish sauce
- beef balls (optional)
- beef blood
- Chinese celery
- Bean sprouts
- Asian basil (purple stems)
- Fried garlic and shallots in oil
- Chicharon (optional)
I add the beef blood to the simmering broth when I am about a minute away from plating.
The chicharon adds a neat bit of crunch and finishes off a brilliant dish. We have an amazingly rich, healthy soup bursting with flavors but we also have that crunchy, chewy, smooth, umami experience that makes boat noodle soup one of the best dishes in Thailand.
Thai Boat Noodle Soup Recipe
- 2 liters beef bone stock
Boat Noodle Aromatics:
- 10 grams black Tellicherry peppercorns
- 25 grams smashed peeled galangal
- 1 full star anise 2 grams
- 30 grams smashed elephant garlic
- 12 grams coriander seeds
- 20 grams of lemongrass puree with oil
- 4 regular sized kaffir leaves
- 1/8 cup + 1 tsp fish sauce
- 10 grams crushed coriander root
- 20 grams smashed green scallions
- 8 teaspoons beef blood 2 per bowl
- 1 tbl molasses
- 1 tbl soy sauce
- 10 grams palm sugar
Boat Noodle Final Touches:
- 12 super thinly sliced sheets of beef round
- 4 beef balls just buy them at your local Asian store
- Chinese celery
- Bean sprouts
- Chicharon optional
I can’t over emphasize enough how healthy these types of soup are. Enjoy and if you have an addition, I’d love to hear about it.