Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe – Samlor Machou Ktis. Recipes With Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk for Samlor Machou Ktis

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This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe makes a versatile dish that you can serve as a soup by thinning it out with stock or water, or dish it out as an almost curry-like stew by letting it simmer longer and reduce right down. It’s also a great year-round dish. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried greens.

This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe is next in my series on Cambodian soups – the first was the Cambodian sour beef soup with morning glory (samlor machou kroeung sach ko) and next up is the ‘outside the pot’ soup – and it’s another one of my favourite Cambodian soups for its versatility as much as its sour and sweet flavours and presentation.

Few things are as comforting as soups and we all need comfort right now, so while Terence is char-grilling aubergines and turning beef skewers on the brazier for his Cambodian barbecue recipe series, I’m stirring pots of bubbling Cambodian soups on the stove.

Next up I’m testing two soups: samlor kako or ‘stirring soup’, a hearty fruit and vegetable-driven soup that is one of Cambodia’s quintessential dishes and requires frequent stirring, and the Cambodian out of pot soup, which doesn’t involve much stirring or simmering at all, and is perhaps the easiest Cambodian soup to make. In the meantime, here’s our Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe.

As mentioned in my previous post, this post will feature in the epic Cambodian culinary history and cookbook we’ve been researching for six years, which we are seeking patrons for on Patreon, so please do let us know if you make any of these soups. We’d love your feedback and we’d also love to see you on Patreon. You can support that project for as little as the price of a cup of coffee a month.

Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe – How to Make Samlor Machou Ktis

Known simply as samlor machou ktis (or k’tis) by Cambodians who love to shorten names, just as we Australians like to do, it’s more correctly called samlor machou ktis monoa sach chrouk. ‘Samlor machou’ means sour soup and Cambodians love their sour soups, a whole category of soup distinguished by their tartness and tanginess, generally due to the inclusion of citrus or another souring agent, such as tamarind.

Although to call this particular soup ‘sour’ only is a tad misleading, as this is a balanced soup with the sourness offset by the sweetness. It should perhaps be called a ‘sweet and sour’ soup, although then the Chinese cuisines come to mind, which would create false expectations about the flavours of this much-loved Cambodian dish.

In the case of this Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe, the pineapple, palm sugar and coconut milk makes this dish sweeter than sour, which is why it needs the tamarind juice. Having said that, I chose a fully ripe and very sweet pineapple. If you used a younger pineapple, it would be less sweet.

Samlor – which you’ll see written as samlo, samlaw, samlar, samla, samlah etc as there’s no standardisation of romanised English for Khmer – can mean both a soup or a stew, which can be confusing to foreign travellers eating out in restaurants in Cambodia on their first trip. I’ll never forget eating a rich, hearty, stew-like samlor at one restaurant on our first trip to Phnom Penh many years ago, and then ordering another samlor at a different restaurant expecting it would be similar only to receive a watery soup.

A positive is that this gives you a certain degree of freedom, which is why you’ll see this sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk served very much as a soup, especially in homes in the countryside where soups mean there’s more to go around. But you’ll also find this dish in restaurants presented as a heartier stew.

In a Cambodian home in the countryside a soup such as this might be served for lunch or dinner, where it would be presented in a big pot and eaten with loads of rice. The pot would be on the table, a plate of rice would be dished up for each person, and the soup would be ladled into small bowls.

Unlike Cambodian breakfast soups, which are eaten individually, in a city or in the home of a more well-off family, this soup might be served as one of an array of dishes that might also include a dip and vegetables, stir-fry, perhaps a curry, and something grilled. For a special occasion or at a restaurant, it might be served in a pineapple cut in half as I have done or cut lengthwise.

Tips to Making this Cambodian Sour Soup with Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe

This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe is easy to make, especially if you make the Khmer yellow kroeung in advance. As I explained in my last post, a kroeung is a Cambodian herb and spice and the yellow kroeung used for this recipe (and my last soup recipe) is the most basic and most versatile of the main pastes used in Khmer cooking.

As well as this Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe, the yellow kroeung is used in many Khmer dishes, including Cambodia’s famous fish amok, these smoky beef skewers and that sour beef soup with morning glory.

I mentioned above how I love the versatility of this Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe and how it can be made as a thinner soup or reduced to a stew. I recommend trying it as a soup the first time you make it, and then the second time reducing it right down to make a stew. Let me know which you prefer.

I’ve used pork loin for this as I love the texture it gets from being fried in the kroeung and prahok (fermented fish paste) and then left to simmer. Some Cambodians use pork ribs, but I prefer the small pieces of pork if presenting it in a pineapple – which is also why I use the pea eggplants.

Some recipes call for the round striped eggplants but I prefer the pea eggplants not only for their size but also because they’re bitter-sweet, which works well with the sour-sweet dish. If you threw the pea eggplants straight into the dish they’d only taste bitter. It’s important that you fry them first to bring out the sweetness in them.

This dish is typically made with prahok, however, it can be challenging to find outside Cambodia, which is why I’m always going to write prahok and/or fish sauce in my Cambodian recipes on Grantourismo. The prahok gives the dish a funkiness that’s quintessentially Cambodian.

Prahok is an acquired taste, however, so you could leave it out if you don’t like it. I’ve also written ‘and/or fish sauce’ because some Cambodians will use both prahok and fish sauce. One recipe I have for this dish uses prahok, fish sauce and shrimp paste, which makes for a very pungent dish, a little too pungent even for me.

Never forget that with Cambodian food – like Thai food and other Southeast Asian cuisines – it’s essential to taste the dish as you go. It’s okay to adjust seasoning to your own taste. Chefs continually taste and tweak in kitchens. Cooking instructors do the same in classes and encourage students to adjust dishes to their taste. If it’s too sour, add more palm sugar (and if you don’t have palm sugar, use brown sugar), if it’s too sweet, add more fish sauce and/or tamarind juice.

As with the last soup I made, this should provide enough for four people although if you’re serving it as one of an array of dishes, you should be able to offer 6-8 serves in small bowls.

And once again, chilli is optional and can be served on the side. We like the bite that a little chilli gives but not everybody does. Cambodians typically serve finely sliced chillies in a bowl on the table, so those who like it can add it.

Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe

Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe – Samlor Machou Ktis. Recipes With Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe

This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe makes versatile dish that you could serve as a soup by thinning it out with stock or water or as an almost curry-like stew by letting it simmer longer and reduce right down. Serve with rice.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Cambodian / Khmer
Servings made with recipe4
Calories 574 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 large pineapple
  • 6 tbsp yellow kroeung
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300 g pork shoulder - chopped into small bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp prahok - can use 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 bunch pea eggplants - around 32-40 or 8-10 per person
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 3 cups water or stock - we prefer stock
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 small red chilli - finely-chopped, optional

Instructions
 

  • Make the Khmer yellow herb/spice paste called Kroeung Samlor Machou (see recipe link, above).
  • Prepare the pineapple: depending on the size, cut the pineapple in half or one-third from the top. Peel the top part of the pineapple and chop it into bite-sized cubes. For the remainder of the pineapple, which you will use as a bowl, scoop out the pineapple meat and chop into similar size pieces and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan and fry the pork, prahok or fish sauce (optional) and 3 tablespoons of kroeung until the pork has some colour. When done, transfer to a soup or stew pot.
  • Heat another tablespoon of cooking oil and pan fry the pea eggplants, continually turning them, until they begin to brown and even char a little. Transfer to the soup or stew pot.
  • Add the coconut milk, pineapple, palm sugar and the rest of the kroeung (3 tablespoons) to the soup/stew pot and stir everything until well combined.
  • If you’re making a soup, add the cups of water/stock and simmer on low heat for at least one hour, stirring and tasting occasionally until the pork is tender. The water will give you a lighter soup, the stock a richer and more intensely flavoured soup. If you decide to make a curry-like stew, skip the water/stock, simmer on low heat, stirring and tasting occasionally until the pork is tender.
  • Add the tamarind juice when you think the pork is done, taste. It should be balanced, both sweet and sour. If it’s missing something, add a pinch of salt and taste again. If you want some bite, finely chop the small red chillies, and add those.
  • When the pork is tender, you’re ready to serve. It won’t all fit in your pineapple bowl, so pour as much as you can into the pineapple, garnish with Thai basil, and set at the centre of the table.
  • You could distribute the rest between small individual bowls for your guests, garnishing each with basil. Or you could simply serve from your pineapple bowl and top it up with the rest as needed.
  • Serve with a big bowl of steamed rice and a small dish of finely-chopped chillis.

Nutrition

Calories: 574kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 18gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 316mgPotassium: 848mgFiber: 4gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 3888IUVitamin C: 129mgCalcium: 94mgIron: 6mg

Do let us know if you make this Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe. We’d love to know how it turns out for you.

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

10 thoughts on “Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk for Samlor Machou Ktis”

  1. In terms of grammage, would you say the chopped up cubes would be between 200-250 grams, or more? What is the level of sweetness of the pineapples you used? Without making it, I think if I use an intensely sweet pineapples, it would be more sweet than sour. I am asking since I have never tried in Cambodia, so want to check some details before trying to make it. Thanks!

  2. I’d base the size of your pork pieces on the size of the pineapple if you’re using it for presentation as you need to make sure it fits in. If you can only get a tiny pineapple, which is all I could find the other day, then you’ll probably want single bite-size pieces. If you have a large pineapple, you could double the size of your pieces if that’s what you’d usually prefer to do with soups and stir-frieds. There’s no need to get hung up on grams with a dish like this as the pork is going to simmer for so long that it’s going to virtually fall apart by the time you eat it, so there aren’t issues such as the meat not all being cooked through as there is, say, in a stir-fry.

    Re sweetness of the pineapple – that’s exactly what I said in the post :) “I chose a fully ripe and very sweet pineapple. If you used a younger pineapple, it would be less sweet.” In fact, if you used a very young green pineapple, as some people do in Cambodia, it will be more sour than sweet. Taste as you go and adjust your sugar/fish sauce/tamarind as necessary so it’s balanced.

    You’ve probably seen this on a menu at neighbourhood eateries like the Chanrea Dom Makara spots, however, it never looks very attractive in those picture menus. In its most basic form it’s very watery and they tend to use the round striped eggplants quartered and it’s not served in a pineapple. This is very much a fancy form of presentation that was used by the elites. There are countless variations too: sometimes it’s done with pineapple and fish, sometimes with a red kroeung, which is more like the Thai dish.

  3. Yes, please! I recommend trying the soup the first time you make it. Then try the stew the next time. (Not really a curry as no chilli in the paste). Looking forward to your feedback. Pics please!

  4. This was perfect! Just like my mom used to make. Cant get tamarind juice so was a bit sweet. Will balance better next time. Thank you!5 stars

  5. Hi Rattana, you should be able to get concentrate in a jar. You only need a little. We’re lucky here in Siem Reap that there’s always tamarind fresh in the market and the supermarket…good luck with the next version

  6. Terence and Lara, we can’t find prahok here (I’ve looked before when I wanted to make another of your recipes) so we used a little shrimp paste. Is that okay? Tasted great to us! We will definitely be making this again.5 stars

  7. Looks great, excited to try it! Is the pineapple used only to top the finished soup/stew, or does it get added in to simmer, and at what point?

  8. Hi Erin, oh my, I can’t believe that got left out and nobody has mentioned that before! Thank you! The pineapple is crucial to the flavour profile. It goes in with the coconut milk and palm sugar at step 5. You could set aside a handful to top as garnish on the pineapple or individual bowls, but I usually just save some of the hot pineapple. Cathie had asked above the flavour profile, it’s meant to be a balance of sweet and sour, with the gentle spice and herbaceous-ness of your kroeung paste, so if you’ve got a super sweet pineapple, pull back on the sugar and add a little salt. If you’re pineapple has more sour notes, the sugar suggested should be fine. Do as they do here and taste and adjust for your palate. Please do come back and let us know how it turns out :)

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