A Simple Delight – Num Banh Chok

Cambodian cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, steeped in tradition and rich with aromatic herbs and spices. While dishes like Bai Sach Chrouk (grilled pork and rice) often steal the spotlight, there are many other delightful recipes worth exploring. Today, let's delve into the world of Num Banh Chok, a beloved Cambodian noodle dish that is both easy to prepare and incredibly satisfying.

What is Num Banh Chok?

Num Banh Chok, often referred to simply as "Khmer noodles," is a traditional Cambodian dish consisting of fermented rice noodles topped with a light, fragrant fish-based green curry. This dish is typically enjoyed for breakfast but can be savored at any time of the day. It's a perfect harmony of flavors and textures, making it a favorite among locals and a must-try for anyone new to Cambodian cuisine.

Ingredients

One of the beauties of Num Banh Chok is its simplicity. Here’s what you need:

For the Noodles:

  • 1 package of rice vermicelli noodles (store-bought works perfectly)

For the Green Curry Sauce:

  • 1 lb (450g) of white fish fillets (catfish or tilapia are excellent choices)
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of green curry paste (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1-2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (adjust for desired consistency)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, smashed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1-inch piece of galangal or ginger, sliced

For the Toppings and Garnishes:

  • Fresh herbs: mint, basil, and cilantro
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • Bean sprouts
  • Shredded banana blossom (optional but traditional)
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped green onions
  • Sliced red chili (for those who like it spicy)

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Noodles

  1. Cook the rice vermicelli noodles according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Step 2: Make the Green Curry Sauce

  1. In a large pot, bring the coconut milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
  2. Add the green curry paste and stir well to combine.
  3. Add the fish fillets, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal. Simmer until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart.
  4. Remove the fish from the pot and gently flake it with a fork.
  5. Return the flaked fish to the pot and add the fish sauce, sugar, and enough broth to reach your desired consistency.
  6. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Step 3: Assemble the Dish

  1. In individual serving bowls, place a generous portion of cooked rice noodles.
  2. Ladle the fragrant green curry sauce over the noodles.
  3. Top with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, cucumber slices, banana blossom, and any other desired garnishes.
  4. Serve with lime wedges and sliced red chili on the side for added zest and heat.

Why You'll Love Num Banh Chok

Num Banh Chok is more than just a meal; it's an experience. The freshness of the herbs, the crunch of the vegetables, and the aromatic, savory curry come together to create a dish that's light yet fulfilling. It's a fantastic way to introduce Cambodian flavors to your kitchen without needing an extensive list of ingredients or complex cooking techniques.

Tips for the Perfect Num Banh Chok

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh herbs and vegetables make a significant difference in the overall flavor and texture of the dish.
  • Adjust to Your Taste: Feel free to adjust the level of curry paste or add more fish sauce and sugar to suit your palate.
  • Make it Vegetarian: Substitute the fish with tofu and use vegetable broth for a delicious vegetarian version.
Emil Moe

Software- and Data Engineer

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