When I looked through the ingredients for this Cambodian fish soup, I did a double take - cucumber and lettuce ?! I wasn't at all sure about that and had visions of a slimy green Fungus the Bogeyman type soup ! Luckily, the wonderful Jane from Onions and Paper reassured me and said that she often throws lettuce and cucumber into Oriental dishes at the last minute. Sure enough, they just get a quick dunk in the hot broth so they stay fresh and crispy and add some lovely crunch and texture to the dish.
Noum Protchok Khmer
for the kroeung:
90g lemongrass paste
30g powdered galanga
1 bird's eye chilli
a few Kampot black peppercorns
2 cloves of garlic
the zest of a lime
a pinch of salt
2 or 3tbsp water if necessary
for the Noum Protchok Khmer :
300g rice noodles
3tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)
a few leaves of batavia lettuce or Chinese cabbage
1/2 a cucumber
100g beansprouts (I left these out)
1 chicken stock cube
Start by making the Kroeung. It is a pungent lemongrass paste, made using several ingredients from this month's Cambodian-themed Kitchen Trotter box, which is used in several of the recipes on the cards.
The quantities above create enough for the three dishes that I'll be using it in (watch this space for the others) - for this dish, you only need 1/4 of the prepared paste.
Just throw all of the ingredients into a blender and give it a blitz. Add a little extra water if needed.
There are various types of kroeung - red (with added chilli), green (with chives) and yellow (this one, even though it looks brown to me !). Keep in the fridge until required.
Slice the Chinese cabbage/lettuce and the cucumber and put in the bowls.
Cook the fish in boiling water for 10 minutes then flake in a bowl. Remove any bones you can see.
Add 1/4 of the Kroeung made above, the sugar and the fish sauce. Mix.
Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for a few minutes.
Drain and add to the soup bowls.
Put 1 litre of water on to boil and add the stock cube. Add the flaked fish and bring back to the boil, stirring. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Ladle the fish and broth into the bowls and top with fresh mint. You'll need chopsticks or a fork along with a spoon to eat this, and don't forget a serviette for the inevitable dribbles on your chin !
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