Mee Kati (หมี่กะทิ) is a noodle dish that is popular in Thailand (and some parts of Laos); thin rice noodles are steeped in coconut milk, giving them a creamy flavor that is distinct from their more popular cousins, Pad Thai and Pad See Ew.
Mee Kati is often sold by street vendors, where they use food coloring to give the noodles a pink hue. It’s a very unique visual experience, but one we’re going to forgo in this recipe (feel free to add about 1/2 tsp beet powder to the coconut milk broth in step #3 if you’re up for it).
Some usual Thai suspects are on hand in this recipe, to include limes, chiles, shrimp paste, and tamarind–but a more uncommon addition is soybean paste; either red miso paste or Korean doenjang will work nicely.
Mee Kati - Thai Coconut Milk Rice Noodles (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo-adaptable)
1/2 pkg (8 ounces) rice vermicelli
2 tbsp coconut or avocado oil, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb shrimp (shell-on, tail-on, or peeled – whatever you’d like)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 shallot, minced
1 (14oz) can coconut milk
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp red miso paste
1 tsp honey or coconut palm sugar
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp shrimp paste (or 1 tsp fish sauce)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 kaffir lime leaves (aka makrut leaves)
4oz ground pork
banana leaves to line bowls (optional, see note below)
sliced red chilies
1. Place the vermicelli in a large bowl and cover with warm water; set aside. Warm 1 tsp oil a wok over medium heat, then add the eggs. Spread the egg out as thin as possible, swirling it along the sides of the wok, then flip once firm, about 1 minute; cook until just done, then transfer to a cutting board.
2. There are two ways to prepare the shrimp: on the grill or in the wok. To grill, simply place on a preheated grill at high heat until pink, opaque, and the tails have curled, about 3 minutes–flipping halfway through the cooking process (if grilling, I recommend you cook the shrimp before step 1 above). Consider skewering the shrimp if they are small and there’s a chance they’ll fall through your grill grates. To cook in the wok, increase the wok’s heat to high, then add 2 tsp cooking oil; once the oil is shimmering, add the shrimp and stir-fry until pink, opaque, and the tails have curled. Set the cooked shrimp aside.
3. Set the wok temperature to medium-high, then add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Once shimmering, add the shallot, and stir-fry until starting to soften but just before it browns, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, tamarind, miso paste, honey, salt, shrimp paste, pepper, and ginger. Whisk to combine, then add the kaffir lime leaves.
4. Once the coconut milk is simmering, add the ground pork and stir to combine, breaking up chunks. Allow the pork to just cook through, about 3 minutes, then pull the vermicelli out of the warm water, transfer the noodles to the wok, and toss. Simmer until the noodles absorb the liquid, tossing often, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the leaves.
5. Line your bowls with banana leaves, then distribute the porky noodles into the bowls. Thinly slice the egg. Top the noodles with shrimp, then serve with bean sprouts, egg, chilies, cilantro, and lime wedges.
** Banana leaves are often sold in Asian and Latin markets, in the frozen section, and are very affordable. They lend a tropical feel to the noodles, but aren’t necessary for some tasty Mee Kati.
** Tamarind is most frequently sold in blocks of dried pulp, which is available in most Asian or Latin markets. To turn it into a paste, simply cut a piece of the block and combine with a little boiling water; once soft, run the pulp through a strainer to catch any chunks, and use the strained liquid.