Walk around capital in the early morning and you shouldn’t fail to notice some frenetic activity at street stalls and shop-house restaurants. While Cambodia boasts a wide array of breakfast options, many of the customers that flock to these establishments do so in search of one particular dish: Kuy Teav, or Cambodia ride noodle soup.
Kuy Teav is one of the most popular meals to wake up with in the Kingdom, a distinction shared with other classical local morning dishes such as Bai Sach Chrouk ( Pork and Rice), Borbor (Rice Porridge), and Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Rice Noodles).
Kuy Teav is not a dish Cambodians like to cook at home, though. They rather eat it in the street or in a restaurant, where they can sit in the company of friends and acquaintances, and discuss the latest gossip or news over some steaming soup bowls.
This tasty dish is prepared with rice noodles , which are cooked by quickly immersing them in boiling water. The noodles are then strained, placed into a bowl, and lightly coated with nutty, caramelized garlic oil. After dressing with a type of oyster sauce, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar, the bowl is then filled with a clear broth made from pork or beef bones. Then the meat toppings are added, which may include pork loaf, minced pork, and pork belly, among others.
However, the garnished and condiments are what truly make this dish different from any other noodle soup eaten in the region. Its flavour profile is defined by the triumvirate of garlic, lime juice and black pepper, three ingredients that are as essential to Cambodia cuisine as Kuy Tiev itself. The dish is also always served with the requisite garnishes of a few lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs.
With a purposely subtle broth, the customer must customize the dish to their liking, a task that Cambodians have perfected over the years. Different types of chilli and chilli sauces are normally available at the table, to either and into the broth or to be used as a dipping sauce for the meat toppings, as well as soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. To boost their enjoyment of Kuy Tiev, locals opt to eat it with deep fried breadsticks.
Various versions of this dish exist. Kuy Teav many be presented with all the ingredients in the soup, or with the soup on the side; the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ versions, respectively, However, no variant tops the one that hails from the capital. Kuy Teav Phnom Penh contains the most ingredients and embellishments – mirroring the city’s own cultural and historical grandeur and diversity – taking the dish to the next level by adding giant Mekong prawns and beef offal to the mix.
Due to the presence of large ethnic Khmer populations, this dish is also popular in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. The Phnom Penh version of Kuy Teav (Called Hu Tieu Nam Vang ing Vietnamese) in hugely popular in southern Vietnam, having been introduced to the country some time during the 1960s. As Cambodian restaurants in France, the United Stated and Australian, Kuy Teav is considered as staple.
If you can’t conceive the idea of exploring a place without experiencing its flavours and aromas, then sampling a bowl of Kuy Teav must be high up on your list. But before you dive in with your chopsticks, ask a local toshow you the exact proportionss of chilli sauce, condiments and other garnishes to add. It will give your dish the true local (and spicy) flavour that you are seeking.
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