Simple yet delicious, when rural cuisine is done right, it’s wonderfully satisfying. No matter where one finds it, particularly as with today’s entry, in Cambodia. Among the many such culinary discoveries that await there is Bamboo Shoots Soup with Pork. This is included in the seemingly endless variety of recipes My Linh Nakry offers on her new web home, Cambodia Recipe.
The soup is quite direct, actually, containing just seven ingredients, total, one of which is water. The pork and bamboo simmer in the water, to which pepper and a dash of fish sauce are added. This lends it substance and a bit of a silky sheen, and turns the water into broth. It all comes together rather quickly, in fact, with the journey to soup taking just a quarter of an hour.
Bamboo provides additional texture, and the plant, relatively mild by itself, soaks up the meaty broth that holds it. In addition, cooking softens the usually-crisp shoots, making them almost into a noodle of sorts. As you can see, the soup is loaded with bamboo, a fitting prominence for a grass so common throughout Cambodia, particularly in the countryside.
In fact, Nakry accompanies her recipe with interesting facts, including that bamboo was so widespread in Cambodia, the ancient Khmer used to burn it, not wood, for cooking. She also relays the charming story that, according to Buddhist legend, “angels” planted the first bamboo plants, hence a similar image in the moon. OK… Most Westerners see a “face” in the moon, but if bamboo surrounds you, perhaps that’s where the mind goes.
Whether or not it’s in the night sky, bamboo definitely belongs in today’s soup. It’s among a few simple ingredients that come together quickly to turn water into a silky, satisfying meal. A celebration of country know-how.
Bamboo Shoots Soup with Pork
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 pound pork country ribs, sliced thinly
- 1 pound bamboo shoots (*1)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar (*2)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
- 3 stalks scallions, sliced thinly
Pour the water in a large saucepan and place it over a high flame. When the water boils, reduce the flame to medium and add the pork and bamboo shoots, stirring occasionally. Cook until the pork is tender, about ten minutes.
Add the fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about a minute.
Ladle into serving bowls and top with onions. (*3)
1 – The original recipe calls for the bamboo to be rinsed and sliced thinly. Practical advice if you can find fresh bamboo, though the canned stuff is good too.
2 – Palm sugar likely is used in Cambodia, though a similar quantity of brown sugar is a suitable replacement.
3 – I also added thinly-sliced limes. A nice taste, and they make for a better presentation, don’t you think?