Volume 1 No.7

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The Sweet Taste Of Tradition
By: H.P. Rajana. Pictures by : Nathan Dexter. ( December, 2001 Volume 1 No.7 )

When guests visit a Cambodian household, food is always at the center of festivities. And samlor, or soup, is integral to any meal. So it wasn't a very difficult decision for Ministry of Tourism officials to decide what to present as part of Cambodia Night at the Asean Forum, to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from January 20th to 28th, 2002. Performances of traditional arts and dance will be complimented by a fashion show of traditional dress and, of course, a full traditional meal at which Samlor M,chu Kroeung, or Spicy Sour Soup, will be a centerpiece. Mr Kousoum Samroeuth, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, said the toughest decision, and one they are still deciding, is which particular soup to serve. "Like other aspects of Khmer traditions and culture, food represents the character of our country," he said. His offsider, Mr Kong Sopheareak, Deputy Director of the Information Technology Center at the Ministry of Tourism, said that the unique flavors of Khmer soups, made them important in understanding the fabric of Cambodia. "Though I am not good at cooking, I know what I should propose our visitors to taste, and that is our soup. If we talk about sour soup, we have to differentiate between the sour soup without spice, called sgnor chrouk, and the one with spice, called samlor m'chu kroeung.
"Cambodia has a large range of traditional soups for example, dozens of sour soups, with spice and without. There is sgnor chruok moan (sour soup with chicken and herbs), sgnor chrouk moan trayaung chek (sour soup with chicken, herbs and banana blossom), samlor mçhu kroeung sach moan sloeuk t'neung (spicy sours soup with a kind of wild green vine which has sour leaves, fruit and flowers). The list is almost endless. "These are unique to Cambodia," he said.

One soup of the m'chu kroeung variety which can be found on almost any restaurant menu in the Kingdom uses beef and a blend of herbs and spices, called a kroeung, to create a delicate flavor unlike any other dish. This is Samlor M'chu Kroeung Sach Ko, or spicy sour soup with beef. Samlor M'chu Kroeung Sach Ko Recipe
Beef (preferably a fatty cut)
Prahok (fish cheese), chopped fine



Lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
Galangal, cut fine
Kaffir lime
Tumeric, finely chopped
Garlic clove
Fish sauce
Tamarind juice or leaves
Kantrook leaves (limonia monphylla, a kind of vine which has leaves with a strongly aromatic smell and is used both as a flavoring and for medicinal purposes)
Sugar, salt to taste
Prepare the kroeung by grinding all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle.
Take two thirds of the mixture and blend with prahok in a large pot over medium heat for five minutes.
Add the beef and remaining kroeung and fry until cooked through, seasoning with salt and sugar to taste.
Add enough water to form a soup, about two liters.
Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until beef is tender. Stir in the tamarind juice or leaves and fish sauce and remove from heat.
Brush the kantrook stems over an open flame until aromatic. Remove leaves and add to soup.
In some regions, trakuon (water convolves) is used as a vegetable in this soup. Others add eggplant at this stage.
If you wish to add either of these ingredients, do so now and allow them to cook through.
Remove the soup from the heat and serve with rice.
This is a simple recipe which requires little preparation but provides a true taste of traditional Khmer cuisine. Please enjoy.