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Thai Boat Noodles Recipe (Kuay Teow Reua)

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With this Thai boat noodles recipe, you can make your own version of the classic street food, kuay teow reua. It’s a comforting noodle soup full of authentic Thai flavors, enriched with pork blood, like the original recipe.

Thai boat noodles, kuay teow reua, with pork and meatballs served in a traditional clay dish.

Every few months, my family gathers at my grandmother’s house. My aunt has a few staple dishes she enjoys making, like tom yum noodle soup and Thai sukiyaki. But our favorite one is boat noodles soup because it’s a delicious big batch dish that lasts us for days.

We prepare the soup broth ahead of time, then just cook the noodles, vegetables, and meat whenever we want a bowl.

This boat noodles recipe has many ingredients and steps, but don’t worry – I’ve included easy step-by-step images. It tastes just like the noodles from Thailand! Following these steps will give you a delicious noodle soup that’s totally worth it.

What is boat noodle soup

Boat noodle soup, or kuay teow reua, is a classic Thai street food dish with a rich, savory broth made from pork blood and lots of spices and herbs. It’s typically served with rice noodles and various meats like liver, beef, and pork.

Kuay teow reua

The Thai name for boat noodles soup is kuay teow reua or guay tiew reua.

This type of Thai noodle soup is really flavorful and rich, with the addition of pork blood, pork bone (sometimes beef), and so many herbs and spices. The addition of pork blood is what defines this soup, so you definitely shouldn’t skip it.

Close-up of Thai boat noodles, kuay tiew reua.

The original boat noodle soup also included coconut milk, which makes the soup a bit creamier and richer.

When you’re in Thailand and order kuay teow reua, the soup always comes already flavored. The vendor adds spices and seasonings like chili flakes, fish sauce, and sugar before serving it.

This, along with the strong flavor, is one of the things that sets it apart from regular kuay teow Thai noodle soup, which is typically served plain, allowing you to customize the flavors yourself.

Why is it called boat noodles

Thai boat noodle soup originated in Ayutthaya, where vendors would sell their tasty soups from small boats along the rivers to the local people.

Originally, these noodle soups were served in small bowls because the vendors didn’t have much space on their small boats. They had to carry the necessary supplies for sailing, the seasonings, the broth, and the serving bowls.

The vendors would season the soup for you, because it would be difficult to hand out all the seasoning from their boat. That’s why today, when you have the original guay tiew reua, it still comes already seasoned.

Thai boat noodle shop with a woman cooking a broth.
Boat noodle shop in Thailand.

You can easily spot the original boat noodle soup stalls in Thailand because most of them display a boat in front of the shop, as seen in the image above.

Nowadays, many shops offer larger portions, but some still serve them in the traditional small bowls.

If you’re ever in Thailand, make sure to give the small soup bowls a try.

Boat noodles on a table with Thai drinks.
Boat noodles in a noodle shop in Thailand, yummy!

A small bowl of this soup is usually very cheap, costing around 20 Baht, which is about $0.50. They’re my favorite street food!

Thai boat noodles soup

Now that you know what makes this Thai soup so delicious, let me quickly guide you through the process of how we’re going to make it.

I begin with frying some pork rinds – this is optional. In Thailand, these are for sale at some noodle shops, so that’s why I’ll show you how to make them. We can use the pork fat later to fry garlic and chili flakes, making them super tasty.

Top-view of Thai boat noodle soup with toppings like crispy garlic, vegetables, pork rinds, and red pepper flakes.

Next up is the broth. It’s pretty straightforward – just toss all those spices and seasonings into a pot and let it simmer. After an hour, we add pork blood and coconut milk, making the soup creamy and full of flavor.

Then, it’s time to put everything together. Cook the noodles, veggies, and meat, then pour some of that tasty broth over them. Top it off with your favorite toppings and seasonings, like crispy garlic or bean sprouts, and you’re done!

If it feels like a lot, just focus on following each step at a time and make sure to read the whole recipe first. It’s also helpful to refer to the images as you prepare the soup.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Broth ingredients

Ingredients for Thai boat noodle broth labeled: soup spice set, galangal, lemongrass, peppercorns, pork bones, fermented bean curds, rock sugar, pickled garlic, coriander root, and more.
  • Water
  • Pork blood – The pork blood adds a rich flavor and slightly thickens the broth. It’s the key ingredient that makes boat noodles uniquely delicious and gives the soup its signature depth.
  • Pork bone – When the pork bone is simmered in the broth, it releases its flavorful marrow, fats, and collagen. This turns it into a delicious, meaty broth that’s full of flavor.
  • Coconut milk – The original soup includes coconut milk, this adds a rich creaminess and makes the texture smoother.
  • Golden mountain sauce – This Thai seasoning sauce adds depth and a savory flavor, different from regular soy.
  • Light soy sauce – This provides a subtle saltiness that enhances the broth’s flavor without overwhelming it.
  • Dark soy sauce – Dark soy adds color and a gentle sweetness.
  • Rock sugar – Rock sugar adds a mellow sweetness that doesn’t overpower the other flavors, but creates a nice balance. You can find this at Asian supermarkets and Amazon.
  • Salt – A sprinkle of salt enhances the overall flavors.
  • Fermented bean curd – This is slightly tangy and savory, adding another layer of flavor.
  • Pandan leaves – Pandan leaves give the soup a unique aroma.
  • Pickled garlic head & garlic water – Easily made at home with my pickled garlic recipe, or found in larger grocery stores.
  • Daikon – Adds a gentle sweetness to the broth.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic adds aroma and a pungent flavor.
  • Lemongrass, galangal, black peppercorns, coriander root – Each of these common Thai cuisine spices bring their own flavor to the broth.
  • Thai soup spice set – This premade set of dried spices is used for making aromatic broths. It’s readily available at food markets in Thailand. While I couldn’t find it on Amazon, I did find an alternative: Amazon. Below is an image of the set I used, so you can ask about it at Asian grocery stores or Asian markets.
  • MSG (optional) – A Thai flavor enhancer.
Spice mix featuring star anise, cinnamon, and dried herbs in a traditional spice bundle.

Soup assembling ingredients

Ingredients for boat noodle soup labeled: pork, look chin, vinegar, fried garlic, chili flakes, pork rinds, vegetables & herbs, sugar, and noodles.
  • Noodles – I used fresh rice noodles, you can also use instant noodles, egg noodles, sen yai, and glass noodles.
  • Morning glory, bean sprouts – I think these are the best vegetables for Thai noodle soup, feel free to customize.
  • Look chin – These are frozen meatballs, available in pork, beef, and fish flavor at most Asian grocery stores.
  • Pork – You can use any protein you like, like beef, chicken, and liver.
  • Coriander, green onions
  • Crispy fried garlic
  • Thai chili flakes
  • Prik nam som – Chilies in vinegar.
  • White sugar

Pork rinds

Ingredients for pork rinds labeled: pork skin, salt, and water.
  • Pork skin with fat
  • Water
  • Salt

How to make Thai boat noodles

Pork rinds (optional)

Step-by-step images for making prok rinds.

Step 1: If you’re not making pork rinds, proceed with step 2. Slice the pork skin into bite-sized pieces (1). Place a wok over medium heat and combine water, salt, and the pork rinds (2). Stir occasionally. After 10 minutes, the water will mostly be absorbed by the pork rinds (3). Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring to prevent the pork from sticking to the wok (4). As you continue cooking, the pork will release its natural oils. Fry the pork skin in this oil until it achieves a golden color. Then, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for about an hour in the oil, during which you can prepare the broth (5). After cooling, fry the pork skin again over medium heat until it becomes crisp and bubbles form. Retain the oil for use in step 9 (6).

Broth preparation

Crushed fermented bean curd.

Step 2: Crush the fermented bean curd in a mixing bowl until it is completely broken down.

Garlic, coriander root, and more spices in a cheese cloth.

Step 3: Assemble all the spices – Thai soup spice set, garlic, black peppercorns, galangal, and coriander root – into a cheesecloth bag.

Boat noodles broth with spices cooking.

Step 4: In a large pot set over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Add the prepared spice bag, pork bones, the previously crushed fermented bean curd, pandan leaves, daikon, golden mountain sauce, light and dark soy sauces, rock sugar, pickled garlic, salt, and the optional MSG. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the broth to simmer for 1 hour.

Pork blood with lemongrass in clear bowl.

Step 5: In a separate mixing bowl, knead the pork blood with lemongrass until it is smooth and free of clumps.

Coconut milk being added to pork blood.

Step 6: Combine the coconut milk with the prepared pork blood, stirring until well mixed.

Pork blood being filtered into soup broth.

Step 7: While the broth simmers, strain the pork blood mixture into it through a fine filter.

Soup broth ready in a pot.

Step 8: Allow the soup to simmer for an additional 5 minutes before removing it from the heat.

Soup assembling instructions

Fried garlic and chilies in a wok.

Step 9: If you prepared pork rinds, use two-thirds of the collected pork fat to fry the garlic until golden. Transfer the garlic onto paper towels to drain. Then, in the other one-third of the pork fat, fry the chili flakes until they are fragrant. If pork rinds were not made, use fresh oil for both.

Blanching process of vegetables and meats.

Step 10: Quickly cook the noodles (if you’re using dry rice noodles, first soak them in water) and vegetables in boiling water, then place them in a serving bowl. Cook and add your choice of proteins to the bowl, drizzling a little garlic oil over the noodles to keep them from sticking.

Seasoning soup in clear bowl.

Step 11: In a separate bowl, mix white sugar, chilies in vinegar, and the fried chili flakes to taste. Add some of the broth to this mixture, taste, and adjust the seasoning according to your preference. I used 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon chilies in vinegar, 1 teaspoon chili flakes, and 2 cups of the broth.

Pouring soup over noodles in a clay bowl.

Step 12: Pour the finished soup over the noodles and proteins in the serving bowl.

Thai boat noodles assembled in a clay dish.

Step 13: Garnish the soup with coriander, green onions, bean sprouts, and crispy fried garlic. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Kitchenware

  • Large wok with spatula for frying the pork rinds (optional)
  • Pot with boiling water for cooking vegetables and proteins
  • Wok or skillet for frying garlic and chili flakes
  • Fine filter for straining pork blood
  • Large pot for simmering the broth
  • Cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Cheesecloth bag
  • Noodle strainer
  • Mixing bowls

Thai noodle soup tips

Serve immediately: After assembling your soup bowl, eat it immediately. If you wait, the noodles will get sticky and clump together.

Seasoning: Your soup should have a nice balance of salty, sweet, and spicy with a slight hint of sour.

Proteins: Customize the soup with your favorite proteins, and make sure to slice it thin so it cooks fast and stays tender.

Noodles: Avoid overcooking your noodles, as this will turn them mushy in the hot soup. A quick dip in the boiling water is all they need.

Serving noodle soup at parties

When we have a family get-together, we put the broth on the stove and set up another pot for cooking the vegetables, noodles, and proteins. Arrange toppings, like crispy fried garlic, fish sauce, and chili flakes, on the table so everyone can add toppings to their liking.

Storing Thai soup for tomorrow

Storing: Let the broth cool down to room temperature before storing. You can keep the broth and the toppings in your fridge for up to 3 days, stored separately in airtight containers. If you have a leftover soup bowl, it’s best to eat it as soon as possible, as the noodles will soak up the soup over time.

Reheating: Reheat the broth in a pot over the stove and simply assemble your soup as you would normally.

Frequently asked questions

Are boat noodles gluten-free?

Boat noodles usually contain soy sauce and possibly other ingredients with gluten, so they’re not typically gluten-free.

Are boat noodles healthy?

Boat noodles can be part of a healthy diet if enjoyed in moderation, as they typically include vegetables and lean protein, but can be high in sodium.

Is boat noodles spicy?

Yes, boat noodles can be spicy and the soup is typically seasoned before being served.

Authentic Thai soup recipes

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Thai Boat Noodles Recipe (Kuay Teow Reua)

Thai boat noodles, kuay teow reua, with pork and meatballs served in a traditional clay dish.
Authentic Thai boat noodles recipe for the best kuay teow reua at home! Customize the soup with your favorite toppings and add seasoning to taste.
Praew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Soup
Serving Size 10 people

Ingredients

BROTH INGREDIENTS

  • 1.4 ounce fermented bean curd
  • 1 package of Thai soup spice set see notes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 0.7 ounces galangal
  • 3 coriander root
  • 120 fluid ounces water
  • 35 ounces pork soup bone
  • 4 pandan leaves
  • 5.3 ounces daikon sliced into 1cm sizes
  • 3 tablespoons golden mountain sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 3.5 ounces rock sugar
  • 1.8 ounce pickled garlic head & water see notes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon MSG optional
  • 10 fluid ounces pork blood
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 6.8 fluid ounces coconut milk

SOUP ASSEMBLING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of garlic crushed
  • 1/2 cup Thai chili flakes
  • rice noodles add to taste, see notes
  • morning glory roughly chopped, add to taste
  • bean sprouts add to taste
  • look chin see notes
  • thinly sliced pork or other proteins, add to taste
  • coriander chopped, add to taste
  • green onions chopped, add to taste
  • white sugar add to taste
  • prik nam som add to taste, see notes

PORK RINDS (OPTIONAL)

  • 10 fluid ounces water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 18 ounces pork skin with fat

Instructions

PORK RINDS (OPTIONAL)

  • If you’re not making pork rinds, proceed with making the broth. Slice the pork skin into bite-sized pieces.
  • Place a wok over medium heat and combine water, salt, and the pork rinds.
  • Stir occasionally. After 10 minutes, the water will mostly be absorbed by the pork rinds.
  • Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring to prevent the pork from sticking to the wok.
  • As you continue cooking, the pork will release its natural oils. Fry the pork skin in this oil until it achieves a golden color. Then, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for about an hour in the oil, during which you can prepare the broth.
  • After cooling, fry the pork skin again over medium heat until it becomes crisp and bubbles form. Retain the oil for use in step 9.

BROTH PREPARATION

  • Crush the fermented bean curd in a mixing bowl until it is completely broken down.
  • Assemble all the spices – Thai soup spice set, garlic, black peppercorns, galangal, and coriander root – into a cheesecloth bag.
  • In a large pot set over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Add the prepared spice bag, pork bones, the previously crushed fermented bean curd, pandan leaves, daikon, golden mountain sauce, light and dark soy sauces, rock sugar, pickled garlic, salt, and the optional MSG. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the broth to simmer for 1 hour.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, knead the pork blood with lemongrass until it is smooth and free of clumps.
  • Combine the coconut milk with the prepared pork blood, stirring until well mixed.
  • While the broth simmers, strain the pork blood mixture into it through a fine filter.
  • Allow the soup to simmer for an additional 5 minutes before removing it from the heat.

SOUP ASSEMBLING INSTRUCTIONS

  • If you prepared pork rinds, use two-thirds of the collected pork fat to fry the garlic until golden. Transfer the garlic onto paper towels to drain. Then, in the other one-third of the pork fat, fry the chili flakes until they are fragrant. If pork rinds were not made, use fresh oil for both.
  • Quickly cook the noodles and vegetables in boiling water, then place them in a serving bowl. Cook and add your choice of proteins to the bowl, drizzling a little garlic oil over the noodles to keep them from sticking.
  • In a separate bowl, mix white sugar, chilies in vinegar, and the fried chili flakes to taste. Add some of the broth to this mixture, taste, and adjust the seasoning according to your preference. I used 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon chilies in vinegar, 1 teaspoon chili flakes, and 2 cups of the broth.
  • Pour the finished soup over the noodles and proteins in the serving bowl.
  • Garnish the soup with coriander, green onions, bean sprouts, and crispy fried garlic. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Thai soup spice set - This premade set of dried spices is used for making aromatic broths. It's readily available at food markets in Thailand. While I couldn't find it on Amazon, I did find an alternative: Amazon. Below is an image of the set I used, so you can ask about it at Asian grocery stores or Asian markets.
  • Look chin - These are frozen meatballs, available in pork, beef, and fish flavor at most Asian grocery stores.
  • Pickled garlic head - Use 1 pickled garlic head and then add pickled garlic water until you get a weight of 1.80 oz.
  • Rice noodles - If you're using dry rice noodles, soak them in water before boiling them.
  • Prik nam som - Chilies in vinegar. You can use plain white vinegar as an alternative, but it will be more sour and have more vinegar taste.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Praew, these recipes look so delicious ! Thank you very much for sharing so many yummy Thai.
    Recipes ❤️

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