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How to Make Nom Pajok (Authentic Cambodian Noodle Soup)

Cambodian cooking is all in the potency of flavors you desire. The most common instructions you will hear from anyone giving a recipe is “thyme, thoy” which means adjust by adding and diluting the main ingredients that provide the strongest flavors. I will try to give the best measurements but my cooking technique is that of an OG who tastes and adds as measuring spoons and cups don’t exist to me.

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup


  • 1 Whole chicken
  • 3-5 fillets of catfish
  • 1 tbsp Pahok (fermented fish paste)
  • ½ cup of fish sauce
  • 1 packet of coconut cream powder (can use coconut milk)
  • 1 cup of chopped lemon grass (can buy frozen if fresh is unavailable)
  • 5-10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of pickled rhizome
  • 5-10 kafir lime leaf
  • 1 tbsp tumeric powder
  • Salt – add as desired
  • Sugar – add as desired
  • Fresh chili pepper
  • Vermicelli Noodles
  • Vegetables (bean sprouts, green papaya, cucumber, long bean, banana blossom, cabbage and any kind you may like to add)

Are you ready?  I italicized the ingredients for each portion in the instructions below.


Bring a big stewing pot with 3 quarters full of water to boil then add the whole chicken and let cook. Once chicken is fully cooked take it out of the water but DO NOT drain or dump the broth. Let the chicken cool down. Add the catfish fillets to the broth, let it cook then remove and place together with cooked chicken. You can add the catfish initially with the chicken but it cooks a lot faster so I like adding it after the chicken is removed. Once the meat cools to a temperature safe to handle shred them into pieces small enough for blender to grind. Grind the shredded chicken and catfish together and set aside.

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Chop lemongrass, garlic and rhizome and grind in blender. You may want to add a little cold water to the mixture to get the blender going. Add tumeric powder after grinding to avoid staining your plastic appliances.

*safety tip* adding hot water will create pressure and the lid may explode causing splattered ingredients all in your face and possibly injure you.

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Once all the blending is done bring broth already in pot to a boil and add both mixtures in. Be sure to monitor the heat level at this point and stir occasionally to avoid settlement from occurring at bottom of pot. This avoids burns and bitterness in your soup.

Add whole kafir lime leaves, pahok, fish sauce, salt, sugar and coconut cream powder.

*Tip* the kafir lime leaf is usually sliced and added to the lemongrass mixture to be blended but leaving them whole gives equivalent flavor and saves time.

Cooking the Noodles and Preparing the Vegetables

Bring water to a boil then add noodles. Once the noodles are soft to taste drain and rinse with cold water. To separate noodles into individual bunches soak in cold water while handling and place bunched noodles into a basket for proper drainage. If the noodles are not properly drained it will be mushy and prevent flavors of the soup from absorbing in.

Chop and shred vegetables as pictured or as desired

With a mortar and pestle grind some fresh chili peppers and salt (you can add a little sugar if you’d like) to top off the noodle soup.

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Ready to Eat?

Eating Nom Pajok requires proper assembly. Typically this is the order in which a bowl is assembled: vegetables, noodles and soup topped with the ground chili and salt mixture.


Nom Pajok - Cambodian Noodle Soup

Originally Posted by Sopheak K.

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