Friday, February 03, 2012

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup with Dad's Youtiao


What’s a better meal than having noodle soup during the winter? Not only does it fill you up and keep you warm, but also it doesn’t weigh you down like stew and other hearty dishes.

A few days ago, Andrew and I got talking about food and he mentioned that he was craving Phnom Penh noodle soup. Sounds good to me – I’m always game for noodle soup!


Dad made the double broth last night. He used pork neck bones (which we had in the freezer), chicken bones (which we found for a dollar at the grocery store in Vanier beside the Emerald Buffet), carrots and onions.  There were also a few dried scallops and half of a dried squid for the seafood touch. Would that make it a triple broth?

Simmered on low heat for a few hours, the clear soup perfumed the house with the unmistakable smell of Phnom Penh soup. If you were to walk by our house, you would probably smell squid first, but the squid’s smell is dulled by the pork and chicken stock.



Dad tried his hands at making youtiao from scratch. He probably took a few notes from watching Mom try to make it here, here, and all the other times she's made it. The dough turned out really dense and chewy, which is almost the opposite of what youtiao are supposed to be. He adjusted the dough on the fly by adding potato starch. That gave the youtiao more of a crunchy crust. They tasted similar to the batter my parents make when they batter and fry shrimp. I think it has to do with the wet dough. I'd rather have Mom's sweet bread-like youtiao, but hey, it was Dad's first time making it.

While he flattened the dough, cut the dough into strips, and squished the sticks of dough together, I fried them in vegetable oil on medium heat.


Looks pretty good, huh? Although it looks like the typical youtiao, these weren’t quite there. Close, but not quite. They just weren’t as airy and the taste was off.


Since that was done, some boiled pork was sliced and plated up. The slab of pork was cooked in the soup to infuse more flavour into the fragrant soup.


I made myself a glass of iced coffee and then began to assemble my minimalistic bowl of Phnom Penh noodle soup. Having sips of some strong iced coffee between soup spoon-fulls of noodle soup is really refreshing. Wah!~~


The dried rice noodles, which had been soaking in cool water for about two hours, were ready to be cooked. It only needed a brief dip in boiling water, since the noodles continue to cook in the soup.


I ladled soup into my bowl and added my condiments: sliced pork, fried garlic (with the oil), green onions, and preserved cabbage. It sure doesn't look flavourful, but let me assure you that the soup was very complex. Whenever I took a sip of the soup, I'd taste the garlic oil first, then the fried garlic itself, followed by the seafood-perfumed soup. Sometimes the saltiness of the preserved cabbage popped up too.

The homemade soup and the soup at other restaurants are different. It's like comparing homemade pho to the pho you get at pho joints. In Phnom Penh noodle soup, the soup that you get in restaurants tend to be overly sweet. Also, the seafood flavour is almost non-existent and the depth of the pork broth just isn't there.

Lucy wouldn’t call this a true bowl of Phnom Penh noodle soup. Mainly because I left out a few grinds of pepper, boiled shrimp and – the all important – pork, shrimp and garlic mince. We also didn't have the good beef balls or the white Vietnamese pork sausage. Sad, I know.

But you know what? There’s no need for all of that.

Edit: Okay, so I take that back after enjoying a tastier bowl of Phnom Penh noodle soup earlier. Not only was the soup more flavourful, but the bites of the pork, shrimp and garlic mince added yet another tasty flavour component to the already complex (but balanced) flavour of the bowl of noodle soup. Dried shrimp was luckily left out of the mince.



Mom took over the youtiao dough and fixed it. When I tasted them, I knew right away that she had tweaked it. The bready sticks of fried dough had a slight sweetness. And since she wanted them more crispy, she threw some into the toaster oven after frying. That works.


That’s what I had for lunch. What did you have, eh?


  1. Hey Christine - That looks really good.

  2. Hi Kirk, the bowls of Phnom Penh noodle soup were so satisfying! And you know what? We had leftover youtiao and I tried it with Nutella. It's dangerously good.

  3. That looks delicious, I looooove you tiao, and the soup looks delicious too!!

  4. The triple (?) broth elevates a regular noodle soup bowl to something amaaaazeballs!


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