Khanom Jeen Namya ขนมจีนนำ้ยา is typical dish in southern Thailand. Deceptively simple, Khanom Jeen Namya ขนมจีนนำ้ยา is composed of a plate of rice noodles, served drenched in a rich creamy fish curry, topped with boiled egg, basil and other fresh greens. The secret to a good Khanom Jeen Namya ขนมจีนนำ้ยา is the fingerroot, also known as krachai กระชาย.

Khanom Jeen refers to the rice noodles dish. It is not in a soup, it is not stir-fried, but a bit like wet spaghetti. Namya is the fish curry that is poured over the Khanom Jeen, and is the most popular sauce for this style of noodles in southern Thailand.

Please note that this is not my recipe. It comes from the lovely Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant of Hot Thai Kitchen. While I have followed Pai’s recipe, I have incorporated some elements of the version by (the mother-in-law of) Mark Wiens of Migrationology.com. I find Mark’s version more traditional, using whole fish to first make the fish stock. He used barracuda, which you can replace with mackerel. I do not have the same fish here in Europe, so I have settled for frozen cod fish fillet, in which case Pai’s version has made it easier for me. I have added fresh Thai chilies to mark up the punch in Pai’s version, while I see that Mark has added black peppercorn for that effect. I have also adopted Mark’s idea of adding kaffir lime leaves.

A note of caution: I personally think the preserved mustard greens and Thai basil as toppings are essential. They give the necessary additional dimension to the heat of the fish curry.

Ingredients for the poaching the fish:

Note: If you want to do it the traditional way, use large mackerels and then discard the skin and bones after poaching.

Ingredients for the fish curry:

  • 12-15 dried chilies or more to taste, soaked in hot water until softened, seeds optional
  • 5-8 fresh Thai chilies
  • 2 stalk lemongrass, bottom half only, sliced
  • 5cm galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 3-5 fingerroots “krachai” กระชาย
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5-8 shallots, peeled
  • 3cm turmeric root, sliced, or 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp fermented shrimp paste “kapi” กะปิ
  • 350ml coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbsp Thai palm sugar, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 10-15 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind juice

Ingredients for the dish:

  • 200g dry rice vermicelli (thick and round, not flat)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fresh crunchy vegetables such as bean sprouts, long beans, cucumber, etc.
  • Pickled mustard greens
  • Thai basil

Serving: 2-3 persons

Instructions:

Poach & pound the fish:

  1. Add around 3-5cm of water in a medium pot and bring to boil, along with lemongrass, galangal, krachai. Put in your fish filet and let it simmer to cook.
  2. Carefully take out the fish and let it cool. Do not discard the fish stock.
  3. On a mortar or on a plate, lightly pound the fish until it is fluffy, but not into a paste. Set aside.

Make the curry sauce:

  1. In a blender or in a mortar, add in the spices that was in your fish stock, together with dried chilies, fresh chilies, lemongrass, galangal, fingerroot, garlic, shallots, turmeric and shrimp paste. Blend or pound until very fine.
  2. Bring to boil your fish stock and add in your coconut milk. Stir in one direction until it is hot but just below boiling point. Add in your spice paste, bit by bit, so that it is all slowly dissolved into the creamy stock. Add in the palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves (without the middle stem). Add in fish sauce and tamarind juice to taste.

Cook the rice noodles:

  1. Bring to boil some water in a pot and cook your dry rice noodles until soft. Not too soft as it might melt in a gooey mess.
  2. Drain your noodles and then cool them down in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.
  3. Drain your noodles and dry them on a paper towel before twirling them into equal portions.

To serve:

  1. Place a portion of rice noodles on a pasta bowl. Pour in piping hot fish curry.
  2. Top it with the greens, half a hard-boiled egg, fresh Thai basil. Enjoy!
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