Author Nadsa Perry grew up eating bamboo shoot soup Phnom Penh-style (without coconut milk). On her recent trip to Cambodia, however, she was won over by the Siem Reap version of the soup (with coconut milk), and has since concocted this, her own variation.
- 1⁄4 cup jasmine rice
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed and lightly crushed (optional)
- 2 (4'') pieces lesser galangal, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 1⁄4 cups coconut milk
- 2 tbsp. Tuk Prahok
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally
- 1 large canned bamboo shoot, thinly sliced (see note below)
- 3⁄4 lb. catfish filets, skinned and cut into 2'' pieces
- 1⁄4 cup packed chile leaves (optional)
Place rice in a small bowl, cover with cold water, and gently stir until rice begins to release starch. Drain and repeat twice more.
Place lemongrass (if using) and galangal in a medium saucepan. Add drained rice and 4 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add coconut milk, tuk prahok, garlic, and sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.
Just before serving, add zucchini. Cook for 3 minutes, then add bamboo shoots and fish. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chile leaves (if using) and cook for 1–2 minutes more. Remove lemongrass and galangal, ladle into soup bowls, and serve.
Note—If fresh or frozen bamboo shoots are available, peel thick outer layer off 1 large bamboo shoot, then place shoot in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and slice thinly.