Cambodian Medicine Soup
Nam Yaa at Angkor
Make sure you use thin rice noodles or ramen
The last time I went back to Providence, RI to visit my alma mater, I was enjoying a nostalgic lunch at Angkor -- a Cambodian restaurant -- with one of my former professors. They have a soup there called Yam Naa, or Medicine Soup, which is extremely unique. It's a sweet, savory, spicy soup that is extremely satisfying. They serve it loaded with shrimp and slices of chicken breast, and topped with fresh bean sprouts and shredded carrots. Naturally I ordered a large bowl (sans the shrimp); but when it came time to return to Seattle, the craving kicked in. Web searching far and wide yielded few instructions as to how one might go about re-creating this fantastic soup. Only Angkor's own menu yielded a few hints.
Nam Yaa (Noodle in Spicy Soup)
Nam yaa is a medicine soup using herbs, lemon grass, ginger, galangal, garlic, kaffir limeleaves, chicken & shrimp
So off I went to the Asian market in search of ingredients.
3 qt. (3.5 L) water (6 cups)
3 qt. (3.5 L) chicken stock (6 cups)
3 oz. (70g) peanut/satay sauce 1
5 oz. (150g) Tom Yum Paste (gia vị nấu canh chua)2
1 cup. (250g) oyster mushrooms (fresh, chopped)
1.5 oz. (50g) shiitake mushrooms (dry)
1/4 cup. dried galanga (galangal)
1/2 lb. (250g) ramen or rice stick noodles (dry)
1 large yellow onion
5 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
1 bunch red basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. brown sugar
(to taste) fish sauce
(to taste) canola oil and dark/black sesame oil
Plus some optional accompaniments:
- sliced chicken breast
- cleaned shrimp
1 The satay/peanut sauce is Por Kwan Satay Peanut Sauce for Chicken and Pork, UPC 885064300712 and contains water, sugar, peanut (14%), coconut milk, onion, soy bean oil, glucose syrup, salt, spices (Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cumin, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Coriander seeds), chili, modified corn starch, lemongrass, tartaric acid, garlic, citric acid, paprika color.
2 The gia vị nấu canh chua is a product of Thailand and contains soy bean oil, lemongrass, salt, shallot, galanga, chili, water, dried shrimp, lime, MSG, kaffir lime leaves, citric acid, garlic, sugar, paprika color. The jar says it contains about 15 servings and I used about 1/3 of the jar. The UPC code is 8850643027818.
To make the soup
Soak the dried ingredients (mushrooms, galangal) in about 1 cup of water, weighted down so they get rehydrated.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic very finely. Saute in a small amount (50/50 blend) of canola oil and sesame oil until the onion is translucent.
Add the water, stock, Tom Yum Paste, peanut/satay sauce, and add the now-hydrated ingredients (along with their water). Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Don't worry about the fact that you're adding extra water to the soup; think of it as replacing water lost to evaporation.
Briskly whisk in about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and the brown sugar and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until there are no large chunks -- but don't over-blend! Ensure there are no chunks of cornstarch; break up any such chunks with a whisk. Add fish sauce to taste (I didn't think my soup needed any after the Tom Yum Paste).
Add the noodles (dried), meat/shrimp if you like, and the red basil and simmer for about 7 minutes or until the noodles are just tender. Top with fresh bean sprouts and shredded carrots; serve hot and enjoy!
I thought this soup came out really well. I'd say it's on par with the real deal from Angkor. It's not exactly the same, but it sure satisfies the craving!
Want it spicier?
Try blending in some chili oil or Sriracha sauce! You could also add more of the Tom Yum Paste but that would make the soup more salty.