Rice Soup, Khmer Style

Rice Soup, Khmer Style

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  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7-8 cups water
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat with the side of a cleaver
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed flat
  • 3/4 cup Thai jasmine rice, rinsed well in cold water
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • For garnish:
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 1 bird or serrano chili, chopped
  • fried shallots3 tbsp cilantro leaves
  • 12 leaves Thai basil, coarsely torn
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, thoroughly rinsed in very hot water
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias
  • freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


In a small bowl, combine the pork with the fish sauce and sugar, mix well to blend, and set aside.

Place the water in a large heavy pot over high heat, add the lemongrass, dried shrimp and ginger, and bring to a boil. Boil vigorously for 5-10 minutes, then sprinkle in the rice and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the water returns to a boil. Maintain a steady gentle boil until the rice is tender, 15-20 minutes, then turn of the heat. Remove and discard the lemongrass and ginger if you wish.

In the meantime, in a wok or heavy skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until it is starting to turn golden. Toss in the pork and stir-fry, using your spatula to break up any lumps, until the pork has changed color, about 2 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup and stir in.

Combine the fish sauce and chili in a condiment bowl; set aside.

Just before serving, reheat the soup, stirring to prevent it from sticking. Add bean sprouts to individual soup bowls and top with herbs and scallions. Ladle the soup over the top, then top with more scallions, herbs, fried shallots, a very generous grinding of pepper and a scattering of chopped peanuts.

Serve with the fish sauce and chilis and lime wedges.