Khmer noodles: The story of num banh chok
Posted on March 5, 2013 by Lina
Cambodia and Southeast Asia Vacation Coverage
A definitive Cambodian breakfast or afternoon snack, num banh chok is so ubiquitous and perfectly-liked that it’s generally identified only as “Khmer noodles.” If you question an ordinary Cambodian about the dish, immediately after telling you how delightful it is he’ll patiently clarify to you that essentially, China did not invent noodles, they acquired the plan from num banh chok.
Num Banh Chok
Khmer noodles, or num banh chok
Num banh chok is the identify of the noodles that are laboriously built by hand in large stone mills from fermented rice, but it is also what the dishes manufactured with these appetizing noodles are termed. In its easiest variety, num banh chok, from time to time named num banh chok samlar Khmer, is the excellent dish to eat in warm climate: rice noodles topped with a neat fish gravy and crisp raw veggies which include cucumbers, banana blossom, and water lily stems and fresh herbs, this kind of as basil and mint.
Before the war, Phnom Penh’s most well known num banh chok came from a smaller town 15 kilometers exterior of the metropolis. In her guide Cooking the Cambodian Way, Narin Jameson writes, “The dish was built from the extremely tasty fish in the Kampong Kantuot River, which operates by way of the town…the sellers built their very own rice noodles and employed veggies from their very own gardens. The only price for this business enterprise was transportation from Kampong Kantuot to Phnom Penh, which was incredibly tiny in the 1950s.”
Of course there are also numerous regional versions to the standard num banh chok. There is Kampot-style num banh chok, which relies on domestically-created sweet dried shrimp, coconut cream, fish sauce and peanuts. Siem Experience has its very own version, which has extra garlic and coconut milk than the original, and is served with a sweet sauce named tik pha em. Occasionally, num banh chok is served with a curry hen sauce designed with shrimp paste and yams. Yet another variation, num banh chok nam ya, functions a crimson fish curry, and is a delicacy frequently served at ceremonial instances these as engagement or marriage ceremonies (if weddings aren’t your issue, you can also discover it at the Russian Market place).
Even the royals have their possess model, num banh chok samlar makod, or rice noodles with crown sauce. The variation cited in the most definitive English-language Khmer cookbook, The Delicacies of Cambodia by Nusara Thaitawat, comes from the to start with Cambodian cookbook, Princess Rasmi Sobhana’s opus, The Cambodian Cookbook, released by the American Women’s Club of Cambodia in 1965. The royal version reflects the global style of the royal residence at the time and is designed with rooster livers, Cognac and environmentally friendly peas.
But num banh chok‘s background is considerably more mature and more storied that just 1 Cambodian princess. A common Khmer people legend about Thun Chey–a celebrated innovative and scholar–features the dish. In the legend, Thun Chey was proficiently exiled from the Khmer Empire to China by the Khmer king who was afraid of his electrical power and reputation. In China, he was pressured to resort to building a living providing num banh chok. Of program these types of a tasty dish speedily attained acceptance with the Chinese, right up until even the emperor of China had heard about it. The emperor requested that Thun Chey convey the noodles to the palace, and when the emperor was tasting them, Thun Chey sneaks a glance at the emperor’s deal with, an act that is strictly forbidden.
Predictably xenophobic, Thun Chey declares that the emperor of China looks like a pet as opposed to the Khmer king, who seems like the moon, and is promptly thrown in jail, only to cunningly take care of to be produced and despatched back again to the Khmer empire before long after. Most Cambodians are common with the story of Thun Chey, and a lot of will say that this is where by China bought the notion for noodles and the undeserved glory ensuing from their invention.
If you want to consider what may be the world’s initially noodle by yourself, you can uncover ladies going for walks all around Phnom Penh in the mornings and early afternoon offering bowls of num banh chok out of baskets hanging off poles well balanced on their shoulders, as effectively as at nearby markets which includes Psar Kandal and Psar Thmei.