Boat Noodles

by - November 01, 2011

Boat Noodles, kway tiao reua , is probably the most popular form of noodles in Bangkok 
It was loved by everyone of all age. The term  "boat noodles" refers to noodles with stewed pork or meat  served in aromatic thick and spicy broth. It is used to be sold by the noodles vendors in small boats along  numerous canals and rivers in Bangkok and other provinces in central Thailand.

However, Bangkok is no longer "Venice of the East" . Many canals were filled to make new roads and high buildings over the past years. But boat noodles do survive. 
Nowadays, boat noodles vendors serve their noodles instead in a landlocked boat or in  large barges docked in the roadside canals. 

The noodles vendor serves their noodles in the large barge docked in roadside canal, Rangsit.
picture from manager online
I love boat noodles for its thick aromatic , intense flavored broth, especially ones with cow blood. (Please keep reading.)
The idea of "blood as food" is not new. For centuries, animal blood has been one of important ingredients in many cuisines: German with their blood sausage (Blutwurst),  Scandinavian with their blood pancakes, etc.  

So why let a small amount of blood get in way of you  tasting one of the best foodstuffs ever. :-)

Another thing I love about boat noodles is their tiny serving bowls that hold less than a cup of soup.  While I hardly ever finish a bowl of ramen , I can easily put boat noodles down for five or six. For me, it is very fun to go to boat noodles shop with friends and have boat noodles competition. See who  can finish the most number of the bowls of soup.  Then the winner gets nothing except to work harder at the gym.:-)

I made my boat noodles with all the ingredients I could find in Tokyo.  So bad that I couldn't  find any "edible cow blood", though I have searched high and low for weeks. 

So below is my delicious and authentic boat noodles recipe. 
makes 5-6 servings
1,000 grams beef bones
250 grams beef shank 
1/4 cabbage
2,500 cc. water 
5-6 star arise 
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
5 cloves of garlic, pounded 
2 cinnamon stick 
3-4 coriander roots , pounded
2 tablespoon Thai sweet soy sauce
9 tablespoon Thai light soy sauce
2 tablespoon rock sugar 

1 pack rice noodles
some morning glories

1 pack of pork or beef balls
wonton skin, deep fried (optional)
fried garlic 
coriander to garnish


  • Line the beef bones, cabbage  and beef shank in the stock pot. Then cover with the cold water. Add in all spice, sweet soy sauce , light soy sauce and rock sugar. Simmer for 3-4 hours. 
  • Scoop out the "brown foam" from the broth. 
  • After 3-4 hours, do the final seasoning if needed. 

  • Then with another pot, bring water into the boil. Add in rice noodles, morning glories and pork balls. After 5-10 seconds in the boiling water, the noodles will be ready. They should be soft but still firm to the bite. 
  • Then place the noodles, beef shank, pork balls, morning glories in the serving bowl. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles immediately. Sprinkle with fried garlic and coriander. Enjoy!

The most popular place for boat noodles in  Bangkok is probably Victory Monument. If you ever come to Bangkok and feel like having some culinary adventures , then head to kway tiao reua shops located along the canal for the best spicy local style noodles.    

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