Here’s a really fantastic dish to put on the table at the end of a long, cold winter day. If you’re craving comfort food and you’re up for an exciting taste treat (and exciting visuals) you’ll enjoy this recipe. Plus it’s a one-dish dinner that you can whip up in under an hour.
The broth is flavored with ginger and lemongrass that are smashed to release their flavor, and salty dried shrimp. If you can’t find the shrimp, chopped anchovies are a perfect substitution.
It’s a very thick, full-bodied soup that’s loaded with tender rice and garlicky ground pork. You can get creative with the accompaniments. I chose basil, peanuts, scallions, crisp cabbage, fried shallots and fresh limes – simple ingredients, but they adorn the soup so beautifully that the meal almost seems extravagant!
I especially love the fried shallots!
If you want to add some heat to your bowl, spoon on some of this mixture of chopped Thai bird chiles and fish sauce. It’s a popular Southeast Asian condiment, known in Thailand and Laos as prik nam pla.
This dish is adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford. The authors ate their way through Southeast Asia and their cookbook is full of great recipes and fascinating tales of their journey. I’m not sure if every recipe in the book fits the book’s title as perfectly as this Cambodian pork rice soup does. It definitely has a great balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
We have a deep freeze here in Boston and it’s a great excuse to cook lots of delicious, warming comfort food. I think a steaming bowl of hearty soup can truly warm and nurture you from the inside.
- Marinate the pork
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Make the Broth
- 7 cups water
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, 1 or 2 tough outer layers removed, smashed flat with a meat pounder or rolled with a heavy rolling pin
- 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled and smashed flat
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp or 4 flat anchovies (packed in oil) finely minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup jasmine rice, rinsed several times in cold water and drained
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or other vegetable oil
- 5 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (1/4 cup)
- ¼ cup Thai fish sauce
- 1 bird chile, chopped
- 1 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 3-4 shallots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise, about 1 cup
- 2 cups bean sprouts or thinly sliced napa cabbage
- 15-20 Thai basil leaves, slivered (or substitute regular or sweet basil)
- 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- In a small bowl stir the pork with fish sauce and sugar. Set aside.
- Place water, ginger, lemongrass, salt and dried shrimp (if using) in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil. Boil steadily for 5 minutes. Add rinsed rice to the pot. When it returns to a boil, lower heat and simmer gently, uncovered, until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until tender and golden, about 3 minutes, Regulate the heat so they don't burn. Transfer shallots to a condiment bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet and toss in the garlic and anchovies (if using) Stir-fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the pork and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the pork is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the pork stir-fry to the soup pot, once the rice has finished cooking. Stir through. Season with salt, to taste.
- Mix the bird chile with ¼ cup fish sauce in a small condiment bowl. Set aside.
- Just before serving, gently reheat the soup. Divide the shredded cabbage or sprouts among the bowls. Add a pinch of shredded basil and a pinch of scallions to each bowl. Ladle the soup on top. Add a bit of each topping and a generous grinding of black pepper to each bowl. Serve with a lime wedges and prik nam pla on the side. Enjoy!
Do you want to know more about why we do and don’t rinse rice? Read my Plov post to find out. By the way, it was my my very first post on Panning The Globe.
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