Cabbage Soup with Pork

Due to the hot weather we’ve been experiencing here in California for the past few days I tried to distance myself from the kitchen. I’ve been eating my Mother homemade salty sun-dried fish with either watermelon or plain rice with water for the past several days now. Today the weather was a bit cooler and so I was happy to be back in the kitchen :) . I have a big head of cabbage left in the fridge and been waiting to make cabbage soup for a while now, this was the perfect time for me to make my yummy Cabbage Soup with Pork (Sngor Spey Sach Jrook) ស្ងោរស្ពីសាច់ជ្រូក. It was light and flavorful. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S ! :mrgreen:

There are two variation to the soup. Both use the same ingredients but presented in different ways. Take your pick. The dumpling version will be the quick and easier version. The stuffed version will take some time. It does make a nice presentation though. 😛 You can also add bean threads in the pork mixture. If you have the time you can make a rich broth with pork or chicken bones. Another way to flavor the stock is by using dried shrimp. The soup can be eaten alone or part of a meal.

½ cabbage leaves
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
toothpicks or green onions to secure roll
cilantro leaves for garnish

Pork stuffing/Dumplings
1 cup ground pork
1 tablespoon dried shredded wood-ear mushrooms, soaked in water til soften then chopped
1 stem green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black paper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Soup Stock
4 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
½ chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce

Method for stuffed cabbage roll:
Start by blanching the cabbage leaves in hot boiling water with a little bit of salt until soft. Trim away hard stems and set aside.

To make the pork stuffing/dumplings combine chopped green onion, mushrooms, ground pork and remainder ingredients. Mix well.

Place one tablespoon of stuffing at the stem end of each leaf, and fold in the sides. If the leaves are small, you can layered them. Roll each leaf tightly, and secure with toothpick.

Make the stock by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil and add chicken bouillon. Add stuffed cabbage roll and cook in the stock for 5-10 minutes until tender. Then season with sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce. Remove toothpick. Garnish with cilantro leaves before serving.

Method for cabbage soup with pork dumplings:
Follow the steps above for blanching the cabbage leaves. When it’s cool to the touch roll and slice the cabbage. Set in a bowl.

Prepare stock by adding all the ingredients in boiling water.

Combine ingredients for pork stuffing. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of pork filling and roll into a ball. Drop into the stock. Cook about 10 minutes. To serve ladle pork dumplings into a bowl of shredded cabbage follow by some stock. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

…….. and if you happen to have left over stuffing you can turn it into another simple and delicious stir fry glass noodles. Using the same ingredients with the addition of mung bean noodles that has been soaked.

Simple Green Mango Salad

I went grocery shopping this past weekend and when I saw green mangoes on sale for $1.99 lb, regular $2.99 lb, I got a bit carried away and purchased about 10 lbs worth (5 mangoes). 😀 Perhaps they got a new shipment or something because normally there aren’t many selections. On Friday I stopped by my parents’ house and brought back with me lots of goodies 😛 (like always) one being my Mother’s homemade salty sun-dried fish. It will be tasty when I pair it with my very easy to make green mango salad (Bok Swaiy) បុកស្វាយ. This salad is also very good eaten with plain (unsalted/not marinade) steamed or grilled fish.

Note: If possible, try to buy the green mango in the vegetable section of the Asian Supermarket. The skin will have light green to dark green color and the flesh will be white (like in the picture below). These variety has a crisp texture an a tart taste. Do not use the mangoes in the fruit section. Even though the outer peel may look green and hard to the touch, their flesh will still have that yellow color and tend to be soft and mushy when you cut into it unlike those you find at the Asian stores. I am also using my already prepared fish sauce that I made and stored in the fridge. You can just use the same ingredients and adjust to your taste.

Simple Green Mango Salad
(Bok Swaiy) បុកស្វាយ

1 green mango, peel removed and julienne/shred
4-5 bird’s eye chili (optional)
3-4 cloves of garlic, skin removed
1 tablespoon prepared fish sauce

In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic and chilies. Add ½ of the shredded green mango followed by the prepared fish sauce. Continue pounding using a spoon or fork to rotate it around. Add the remaining green mango and lightly pound to combine. Scoop out and serve with your choice of cooked meats and steamed rice.

Roasted Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork

Roasted Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork (Pahok Kop) ប្រហុកកប់ is a classic Cambodian dish.

It has been 6 years since I started cooking on my own but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve craved classic Cambodian dish such as this one and Steamed Fish Eggs with Ground Pork (Pa’ork Pong Trey) ផ្អកពងត្រី. My parent enjoy fishing during their past time. When a nice big stripe bass is caught she would clean and preserve the fish eggs to make Steam Fish Eggs with Ground Pork, like a custard. Fresh and cooked vegetables are then dipped into the custard. I will have to check with my Mother if she has any preserved fish eggs this season. Until then I will try to calm my cravings with this delicious Roasted​ Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork. The authentic version use Krosang as the sour agent. I don’t have that so I substitute it with tamarind base powder. If you don’t have holy basil, you can use Thai Basil instead. Dip it with your favorite fresh or cooked vegetables. My tomatoes and Japanese eggplants are loaded in the garden so this was another great opportunity for me to enjoy them.

10 banana leaves
½ ground pork
½ lb oyster mushrooms
5 tablespoons lemongrass paste (kroeung)
1 tablespoon ground pahok
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon tamarind base
a handful of holy basil leaves
5 toothpicks (to hold parcels)
assorted fresh vegetables to serve

Prepare banana leaves by washing each of them in hot water. This will make it stronger. Use a paper towel or kitchen towel to wipe it clean. Set aside.

Wash mushrooms and squeeze out excess water. Shred them into pieces with your fingers and set aside.

In a motar & pestal (or a large bowl) combine ground pork, kroeung, sugar, salt, and tamarind base. Lightly pound so the ingredients are all mixed together. Add shredded mushrooms and basil leaves. Use a spoon/fork to fold it into the mixture.

Lay two sheets of banana leaves together. Scoop up mixture and place it in the center. Fold the side like a parcel and secure with toothpick. Repeat this step to make a total of five parcels.

Place on a hot grill and grill until the banana leaves starts to burns. Serve with your favorite fresh or cooked vegetables along with steamed rice.

Taro Dumplings in Coconut Syrup

Another one of my creations. This yummy dessert follow the same steps as my Mung Bean Dumpling in Coconut Milk recipe. The difference is the flavor. For those who doesn’t like mung bean now you can try my Taro Dumplings in Coconut Milk គ្រប់ត្រាវក្នុងខ្ទៈត្នោត. I like them both. 😀 If you like sweet dessert then you can sweeten the dough by adding granulated sugar. If you want to thin out the syrup you can add a little bit of water.

1 lb taro, peeled and cut into chunks
1 ¼ cup glutenous flour
¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
½ cup palm sugar
1 ½ can coconut milk (13.5 oz can)
a pinch of salt
2 splashes of vanilla extract
8 cups of water
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Steam or boil taro chunks until soften, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime make the coconut syrup by bringing 1 can of coconut milk and palm sugar and salt to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Remove cooked taro and mash with the back of a fork. Mix mash taro with flour (and granulated sugar if you like to sweeten the dumplings) and use knead into a dough.

Pinch a small amount of dough and roll into a ball. If it’s too sticky, dust your hand with some flour. If it’s too dry, dip your fingers in a little bit of water and pat on the dough.

In a big pot bring water to a boil. Drop taro ball and cook until it floats up. Do it in batches if needed. Do not overcrowd. Drain with a stainer and add to coconut syrup.

Add the remainder coconut milk, a vanilla extract. Bring to a boil again and turn simmer another 2 minutes. Serve cool or at room temperature. Sprinkle some toasted sesame before serving.

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Here’s another quick and easy fish recipe from one of my cookbook called “Cookshelf Thai” that I wanted to share Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves ត្រីគ្រឿងក៉ារីក្នុងស្លឹកចេក. Actually I had made this and post up the recipe before this new page layout. That time I grilled it wrapped with parchment paper and foil. It taste great as well. But since I previously shared with you my Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves recipe I thought I put the banana leaves into another use just in case you decide to purchase a whole package of banana leaves.

Again I take the easy route by using skinless boneless fish fillet. These are fairly small so I used two of them. However you can use a whole fish just make sure to scale and clean it thoroughly. Also you want to rub the red curry mixture both inside out.

2 fish fillets
4 banana leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
a couple splash of lime juice

Lay two banana leaves and place the fish on the center of the banana leaves.

In a small bowl mix together garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce and curry paste. Spread the mixture over the surface of the fish and squeeze a splash of lime juice on top.

Wrap the bananas leaves around the fish, tucking in the sides as you go, to make a neat parcel. Seal with toothpicks. Repeat with the other fish.

Place the parcel on the grill and cooked for about 20 minutes. There is no need to flip if the fillets are small like mine. The outer leaves will burn. Carefully unravel the parcel. Check that the fish is cooked. Garnish with lime wedge and chili and serve with hot steamed rice. ENJOY!

Drunken Basil Chicken in Clay Pot

Drunken Basil Chicken in Claypot

If there is a 30 minute Asian dish book this recipe should be included. It’s so so easy! I found the recipe online and adapt it to my preference. I somehow do not feel the original name of “Three Cups Chicken”. Don’t get my wrong as I am not dissing the origins but just the name. I love how easy it is to make and the wonderful aroma followed by the delicious taste. According to the history it is a Taiwanese dish and three cups refer to the ratio of the three main ingredients which is sesame oil, soy sauce and wine. I did follow the ratio but still the name I have given “Drunken Basil Chicken in Clay Pot ម៉ាន់ជីក្រហមពល់ស្រាក្នុងឆ្នាំងដី” would give people a better idea of what this dish is all about. But then there wouldn’t be much story behind it would it? Again, all that matters is that it taste good. 😀

This was an opportunity f or me to pull out my cute little clay pot that I brought back with me during my trip to Cambodia. :) For convenience I used skinless and boneless chicken thighs because cooking time was pretty short. However, you can also use bone-in and simmer it for a very long time until the liquid completely evaporate and the bones should also give off a nice taste – if you have the time. I like my dishes spicy so I added some dried red peppers as well. The whole garlic taste amazing! It was not garlic-y at all but soft and nutty? :) And since I also love basil I added a whole bunch. As with any recipe there really is not rules. To me I just study the concept and turn it around so I suggest you to do the same. Taste it and adjust accordingly.

Drunken Basil Chicken in Clay Pot
(Mon Chee Krohorm Pol Sra Knong Chhnang Dey) ម៉ាន់ជីក្រហមពល់ស្រាក្នុងឆ្នាំងដី

1 lb chicken, cut into bite size
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 dried chili peppers
2 inch ginger, peeled and slice
6-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tablespoons sesame oil
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1½ tablespoons shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
a bunch of Thai basil

Sprinkle baking soda on the chicken. Mix throughly and allow to sit about 10-15 minutes. This help tenderize the chicken. You can skip this step if you plan to simmer it for more than 30 minutes. Wash and rinse thoroughly and pat try with paper towel.

In a clay pot or heavy base pan heat sesame oil and add ginger, garlic and dried chili peppers. Fry until fragrant then add chicken pieces. Cook chicken half way then add all the sauces. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer for about 5 minutes or 10 minutes if using bone-in chicken.

Once chicken is fully cooked turn off the heat and stir in the basil. When serving you can dish it out or like me serve it in the clay pot along with steam rice.

Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves

I have been eating a lot of meat & poultry these past weeks so I wanted to incorporate some fish into my menu. There are some fish dish that I normally make such as Chinese Style Steamed Fish or pan fried/grilled with just a simple marinade of salt, sugar and black pepper. However, I want to introduce my taste buds to some new flavors and what did I do? Browsed through my collection of cookbook and came across this Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves ត្រីព្រៃអាំងខ្ចប់ស្លឹកចេក from the book entitled “The Food & Cooking of Cambodia”. The recipe looked simple enough so I put it to the test with some adjustments.

“Steaming freshwater fish in banana leaves over hot charcoal is a traditional method of cooking in the jungle. Banana leaves are large and tough, and serve as basic cooking vessels and wrappers for all sorts of fish and meat.” The outcome? It was pretty good. The banana leaves gave a really nice sweet aroma when grilled. I think the fish itself can be grilled whole without the banana leaves but because it was cut up into bite size pieces it absorb a lot of the marinade. If you don’t have banana leaves you can just wrap it in foil and line it with parchment/wax paper so it doesn’t stick.

6 oz fish fillets, cut into bite size pieces
4 banana leaves, rinse and wiped

1 shallot, grated
1 inch turmeric root, peeled and grated
1 spring onion, sliced
4-5 Thai chillies, chopped (optional)
1 big cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
a dash of salt & pepper

Note: I used the individually packed skinless and boneless frozen tilapia fillets which I defrost in the fridge. You can also use other fresh water fish fillets such as trout, carp or catfish. Banana leaves can be found in the frozen section (where spring rolls wrappers are located). Alternatively you can use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder.

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and toss chunks of fish. Stir to mix. Cover and chill for about 1-2 hours, or overnight.

Prepare your grill or barbecue. Place one of the banana leaves on a flat surface and place marinated fish in the center spreading it out evenly, then fold the sides to form a parcel. Place the parcel, fold side down, on top of another leave and fold that one in the same manner. Secure it with a toothpick or a piece of bendy wire. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

Place the parcel on the grill and cooked for about 10-15 minutes on each side. The outer leaves will burn. Carefully unravel the parcel. Check that the fish is cooked and serve with hot steamed rice. ENJOY!

Banh Xeo/Banh Cheo Puff

Banh Xeo Puff
Banh Xeo Puff

My garden is filled with fresh herbs this time of year so I have been planning dishes around them. Google around and came across great food photos of Banh Xeo (Banh Cheo) which is a Cambodian adaptation of the Vietnamese pancake/crepe with fillings and eaten with assorted fresh herbs, wrapped in lettuce and dipped into fish sauce. B-I-N-G-O! I haven’t made Banh Xeo in a long time, I believe since last summer, so now is a perfect time. However, I recently got my new Pancake Puff Pan (at Walgreens for $19.99) for something I want to try and make in the future so why not put the pan to the test today and make it a Banh Xeo Puff ​​បាញ់ឆែវក្នុងអំបែង?

It turns out that we love Banh Xeo made this way. Why? Because it’s very easy to make and eat. As you can see from the picture, each Banh Xeo puff is just the perfect bite size for the lettuce and herb wrap. Not messy at all. However, due to it’s size I wasn’t able to add fresh bean sprout like I would if I were to make it the traditional way which is on a flat pan fold in half like a crescent. I took a little shortcut by purchasing the already prepared Banh Xeo flour which has rice flour, turmeric powder and salt. You just have to add water, coconut milk and chopped green onions. Simple huh? :) This is just another fun way to enjoy Banh Xeo. My recipe and steps here is pretty much similar to the traditional way of making Banh Xeo for those who would like to try it out.



6 oz prepared banh xeo flour
1 small can 5.6 fl oz coconut milk
3 stalk green onion (scallion), green portion only
1 3/4 cup water
oil for coating

½ lb ground pork or chicken
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
20-25 shrimp, peeled and devein

Dip with fish sauce (see recipe)

Wrap with fresh lettuce, slice cucumber, fresh herbs such as spearmint, Asian mint, cilantro, basil, or fishwort.

Combine all ingredients in the batter and mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Make the filling. In a hot pan cook the ground pork until brown. Add chopped onion along with sugar and fish sauce. Combine and allow liquid to evaporate. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To make Banh Xeo, heat your puff/pan and coat with oil. Tip: Use a brush or a paper towel wrapped around a chop stick. Test with a drop of batter. If it sizzle then it’s ready. Add a small amount of batter in puff/pan. You might want to lower the heat so it doesn’t burn as the batter cooks pretty fast. If using a pan, you want to tilt it around so they spread evenly and thinly. If using a puff pan, fill about 3/4 of the way. Top the batter with the filling and add shrimp (put the filling on just one side if using a regular pan) . Use a lid and cover the puff/pan. Wait about 2-3 minutes depending on how thin/thick your batter is. For the puff, use a skewer to remove it, but for the pan just fold the other half creating a crescent shape. Transfer to a serving plate.

Serve with fresh herbs and vegetables like cucumbers with fish sauce for dipping on the side.

Fish Sauce for Dipping

I like to make my Fish Sauce for Dipping ទឹកត្រីជ្រលក់ well in advance and not have to worry about it when preparing certain dishes. When I get a chance, I would make it in large quantities and store it in the fridge. You can keep it in there for months if done right. My Fish Sauce for Dipping recipe is pretty simple. What ever instrument you use to measure keep it consistence throughout.

Ratio & Ingredients
1 fish sauce
1 vinegar
1 sugar
2-2.5 hot/warm water

Some like to add peanuts, pickled carrots & daikon, sambal oleak, or chopped fresh garlic and slice chili. If serving right away you can also substitute vinegar with fresh lime juice. If you are making this in large quantities for later use, then I suggest you add them right before serving and not when you store it because these extra ingredients might spoil the sauce in a matter of days.

Combine fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. Pour hot water into the mixture and stir until sugar is dissolve. Transfer into storage container and store it in the fridge. Reuse those little empty sauce/paste glass jars. They work great! What I used this time around was an empty Starbuck Frap glass jar. If you decide to reuse plastic soda bottle it is a good idea to mark the bottle just in case someone grab it for a drink by mistake.

Here are some of the dishes that taste great with this dipping sauce:

Banh Cheiv or Banh Xeo- a Khmer adaptation of the Vietnamese Crepe/Pancake
Spring Roll (Fresh)
Egg Roll (Fried)
Cambodian Mini Rice Cake (Num Krook នុំគ្រក់)
Banh Hoi – Vermicelli Rice Noodles
Cambodian Fried Rice Noodles with Eggs (Kui Teav Cha គុវទាវឆារ)

Phnom Penh Noodle Shortcut

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

I have been craving for noodle soup pretty often lately, particularly Cambodian or Thai noodle soup. And what’s widely available in my area is the infamous Vietnamese Pho grrrr. There’s something in the Pho broth that bugs me. Perhaps it’s the heavy spice they use like the star anise and cloves. Whatever it is I am not a fan of Pho. I usually just settle for the Chicken Noodle or Seafood Noodle when I order because it uses a different type of broth.

I wasn’t born in Cambodia and when I had a chance to go visit I’ve only spent like a little over a week in Phnom Penh. My time exploring with food was pretty limited. I ate a lot of fish. You can see the types of fish dish Cambodia has to offer by viewing my video I made about the FOOD of CAMBODIA. Although my time was short my memory of the dishes lives on especially the Ground Pork Noodle Soup I had on my way to visit some relatives in Banteay Mean Chey province. The noodle shop is situated along Cambodia’s national road #5 in Battambang province right at the footstep on your way up to Phnom Thom temple. That noodle soup was THE BOMB! Perhaps it was the loaded fresh ground pork that made all the difference. A noodle soup that is close to this would be the famous Phnom Penh Noodle Soup which consist of not only ground pork but also pork, garlic and shallots. There’s a Khmer restaurant called Mitapheap in Stockton, CA that serves pretty good Phnom Penh Noodle. My family in Stockton goes there often and I usually join them when ever I’m in town.

Because I don’t want to drive hours just to have my bowl of Phnom Penh Noodle Soup and because I don’t feel like preparing the broth for hours, I think I’ve found a quick and easy remedy to this. I’m calling it the Phnom Penh Noodle Soup Shortcut គុយទាវភ្នំពេញផ្លូវកាត់ because not only was it effortless (at least for me) to put together but I felt that the taste was sort of similar to the those rich flavors of a broth that has been simmer for hours. In my shortcut version here the broth was flavored with chopped onions and a little help from chicken bullion in addition to ground pork, sugar and fish sauce. I also added slice pork, shrimp and cuttlefish. My condiments include fried garlic, lime juice, my home made pickled jalapeños and hoisin sauce. Feel free to create your own topping and condiments. Do try my recipe and let me know what you think of it.

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup Ingredients

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup Ingredients

4 cups of water
¼ onion, chopped
3 tablespoons ground pork
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ chicken or pork bullion
6 oz dried rice stick, pre-soak in warm water for 30 minutes

Ideas for toppings/condiments
slice pork
cuttlefish or pork/shrimp/fish balls
fried garlic/shallots
hoisin sauce
siracha chili sauce
pickled jalapeños (see my recipe)
mung bean sprouts
lime juice

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the ground pork breaking it up as you put it into the pot. Once the broth returns to a boil add the chopped onion followed by chicken bullion. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar and fish sauce then simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile in another pot bring about 8 cups of water to a boil. .Strain the pre-soak noodles and separate the noodles into 2 servings. Cook in boiling water until soften about 1-2 minutes. Empty the noodles (straining all the liquid back into the pot) into serving bowl.

It is now ready to assemble. Add additional toppings of your choice. The meat such as slice pork or seafood should be cook it in the broth. This will add another layer of flavor to the broth. It can also be prepared ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot broth evenly to warm all the ingredients. Serve immediately with garnishes and your choice of condiments.

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