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Authentic Nom Banh Chok Recipe for Cambodia's Beloved Khmer Noodles

This authentic nom banh chok recipe for Cambodia’s beloved Khmer Noodles makes nom banh chok samlor proher, a popular breakfast dish of freshly-made rice noodles doused in a yellow coconut-based fish gravy that at its best is richer and creamier than other iterations of this dish. It’s garnished with fragrant herbs, seasonal vegetables, edible flowers, and wild herbs.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine: Cambodian / Khmer
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 564kcal
Author: Lara Dunston

Ingredients

  • 200 g lemongrass stalks peeled chopped and outer layers discarded
  • 1 tbsp galangal peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh turmeric peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp finger-root also called Chinese keys/lesser galangal, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves citrus hystrix/krouch soeuch, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp kaffir lime zest
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 shallots peeled and chopped finely
  • 400 g fish fillets freshwater fish such as snakehead, or any white fish, such as cod, whiting, hake, tilapia etc
  • 1 tsp prahok optional, mashed and strained
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 600 ml coconut milk or coconut cream or a combination of both
  • 500 g fresh rice noodles or dried rice vermicelli, cooked to instructions on pack
  • 200 g bean sprouts blanched and drained
  • 1 large cucumber grated or julienned
  • 2 water lily stems sliced into ½ cm-wide rounds
  • 4 medium-sized wing beans sliced into ½ cm-widths
  • 1 small banana blossom shredded, soaked in water and drained just before using

Garnish

  • 2 limes edible flowers such as purple water hyacinth (pictured), yellow sesbania bispinosa or white sesbania grandiflora, and chi (mixed fresh herbs), such as coriander, basil, mint, and laksa leaves.

Condiments

  • chilli flakes chilli sauce and fish sauce

Instructions

  • In a well-supported granite mortar, first make the yellow kroeung (spice paste) by pounding the lemongrass with the pestle until you can no longer see the rings of the lemongrass and it's all mashed up.
  • Gradually add each of the galangal, turmeric, finger-root, kaffir lime leaves and zest and pound until they're incorporated into the mashed lemongrass.
  • Add the garlic and pound, then add the shallots and pound, until the paste is smooth, but still has some fibres from the lemongrass. Transfer the kroeung to a well-sealed container to refrigerate.
  • In a medium-sized pot or pan, poach the fish fillets with the prahok (mash and strain, ensuring there are no bones) or 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, palm sugar, and enough water to cover the fish, until the fish is cooked.
  • If the fish is soft enough, mash it in the pot with 4 tablespoons of kroeung and the juices. Alternatively, remove the fish fillets (leave the juices), transfer them to the mortar, and pound the fish with the kroeung until well combined.
  • Transfer the pounded fish-kroeung mixture to a medium-sized soup pot if you poached the fish in a pan, then add the coconut milk/cream, another tablespoon of fish sauce, and taste, adding more fish sauce or salt or palm sugar if needed, so that it’s balanced. Bring to a gentle boil then turn the heat down to low to simmer for 5-10 minutes, adding a little water if desired.
  • If you don’t have access to fresh rice noodles, prepare the dried rice vermicelli according to the instructions on the pack, drain and set aside to cool.
  • Bring the fish gravy to a gentle boil then turn the heat down to low to simmer for 5-10 minutes, adding a little water if desired if it reduces too much. When it’s ready, turn the heat off as it should be served warm to room temperature, but not hot.
  • If you don’t have access to fresh rice noodles, prepare the dried rice vermicelli according to the instructions on the pack, drain and set aside to cool.
  • Prep the vegetables, herbs and flowers while the rice noodles are cooling, then distribute them amongst the bowls, first placing the shredded banana blossom in the bottom of the bowl and then the rice noodles on top of these to diminish browning.
  • Ladle the fragrant fish gravy over the rice noodles, distributing evenly amongst the bowls, then arrange the bean sprouts, cucumber, water lily stems, and wing beans on top of the noodles.
  • Garnish each bowl with lime quarters, some edible flowers and chi (fresh herbs), and provide additional flowers and herbs in a basket at the centre of the table, along with condiments such as chilli flakes, chilli sauce and fish sauce.
  • Serve with a spoon and chopsticks and advise your guests if eating nom banh chok for the first time to use the chopsticks to combine the noodles, vegetables and garnish, and then taste before adding more garnish and condiments.

Nutrition

Calories: 564kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 1380mg | Potassium: 1375mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 9mg