This comforting Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs cooked in the congee is made with leftover rice. Called ‘borbor sor’ or ‘white rice porridge’ in Khmer, it’s one of several ways to make Cambodian congee. ‘White’ used here distinguishes it from rice porridges and rice soups made from the herb and spice paste kroueng or stock and uncooked rice.
There are few more comforting things to cook and consume than this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs called borbor sor. And many of us could do with some comfort food right now, with Covid-19 spiralling out of control again in many parts of the world, including here in Cambodia, neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, and back in my hometown of Sydney in Australia.
While this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs is mostly cooked and eaten for breakfast at home – it’s super easy and quick to make, as it’s typically made with leftover jasmine rice – I’m very tempted to make this tonight and tuck into on a tray while watching Netflix.
This Cambodian rice soup offers nourishment for the young and old, as it’s so easy to eat and so adaptable; it serves as home medicine for the sick; and it would have to be Cambodia’s rice soup for the soul. Before I tell you more about this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs, I have a favour to ask.
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Cambodian Rice Soup Recipe with Pork Meatballs for Borbor Sor
While this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs is a comfort food favourite, it’s typically eaten for breakfast – and breakfast in Siem Reap is one of our favourite meals as there’s just so much to choose from: nom banh chok, the fresh lightly-fermented rice noodles doused in coconut-based curries and served with edible flowers, leaves and herbs; kuy teav, a more restrained noodle soup with a clear broth and beef, pork, offal, or chicken; smoky, succulent grilled pork and rice; and, of course, borbor, Cambodia’s rice soup or rice porridge, commonly known as congee across Southeast Asia.
One of the things we love most about breakfast in Southeast Asia is the condiment caddy on the table and the enthusiasm for customising noodle soups and rice porridges to suit your own taste. Cambodia excels in this department, with the best breakfast stalls and eateries offering an assortment of bottles, jars and containers with myriad sauces and condiments, and baskets brimming with fresh herbs, leaves and flowers.
Aside from nom banh chok, Cambodia’s rice porridges probably offer the greatest opportunities for crafting a bespoke breakfast, and borbor sor is a blank canvas upon which you can create your own bowl of deliciousness.
Borbor means rice porridge or rice soup – in much the same way as samlor means stew or soup – and sor means white. It’s called a ‘white’ rice soup, not because the rice is ‘white’ but because the rice soup is, which why it’s such a brilliant blank canvas.
Unlike the Cambodian congees that start with uncooked rice boiled in fish, pork or chicken stocks that give them colour, or Cambodia’s kroeung based rice porridge that has a yellow-green colour due to the type of kroeung used, which is made from freshly pounded paste of turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, finger roots, and garlic, borbor sor is white because it’s basically cooked rice boiled with ginger and lemongrass.
The beauty of this is that you can customise your Cambodian rice soup recipe to your heart’s content. If you’re serving this to your family or guests for a weekend breakfast or comforting evening meal, make sure to provide plenty of condiments – anything from fish sauce to chilli oil and homemade Sriracha – and lots of garnishes, including fresh fragrant herbs, spring onions or scallions, lime quarters and chillies.
Cambodian Rice Soup with Pork Meatballs Recipe
Just a couple of tips for making this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs as this is super easy and comes together so quickly.
While this rice soup is generally made in Cambodian homes with leftover boiled steamed jasmine rice, you could make it from scratch if you really wanted to, by following steps one and two in this Cambodian chicken rice porridge recipe.
There are just a couple of ingredients that need a pound and we recommend doing that in a mortar and pestle as it releases the flavours and aromas so wonderfully.
We often get asked which fish sauce we use. As we said in the last post, we have a large collection and use Cambodian fish sauces for Cambodian recipes, Vietnamese fish sauces for Vietnamese dishes, Thai fish sauces for Thai recipes etc.
However, if you’re not in Southeast Asia and don’t have access to a huge selection of fish sauces, we usually recommend Thailand’s Megachef for its quality consistency. It’s easy to find in Australia and the USA, although many of our American friends like the American-Vietnamese brand Red Boat Fish Sauce. We haven’t tried it as we’ve never seen it here in Southeast Asia.
Cambodian Rice Soup with Pork Meatballs Recipe
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 2 knobs ginger
- 200 g pork mince fatty
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 lemongrass stalks white base only
- 1 litre water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups jasmine rice cooked
- chilli oil, fish sauce, fried shallots, and fried garlic
- lime quarters, spring onions or scallions, fresh herbs such as coriander, basil and mint
- Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves and 1 knob of ginger into a paste, then transfer to a mixing bowl, along with the fatty pork mince, fish sauce, white pepper, and sugar. Combine well, then refrigerate until ready to use.
- Pound the other knob of ginger and lemongrass in the mortar and pestle just until they break and their aromas are released, then add them to a medium-sized soup pot with a litre of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to the boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the leftover cooked jasmine rice, stir, and reduce the heat to low. While the rice soup is simmering, prep your garnishes, then form the seasoned pork mince into mini meatballs. Keep an eye on the rice soup, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick and if necessary, adding more water to the pot.
- Make the mini pork meatballs by using a teaspoon to scoop out the mince and gently roll it between two hands to shape into a small ball of around 2cm in diameter. Once you’ve finished making all the pork balls, gently submerge each one into the rice soup and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until the pork meatballs are just cooked.
- Ladle the rice soup into bowls and serve immediately, as is – along with plenty of fresh herbs and condiments, such as fish sauce, chilli oil, fried shallots, and fried garlic.
Please do let us know in the Comments below if you make this Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs as we’d love to know how it turns out for you, and we’d also love some feedback and a rating.