Like most of you, I performed an internet search for “Cambodian bean thread noodle salad” recently. Thus, you may already be familiar with the 7th result on the first page: Cambodian Recipes.
It is not a high-end production. There are no hosts making jokes or being aggressively hip. There are hands manipulating ingredients and if the captions aren’t translated perfectly, you’ll figure it out.
There are videos at the end of each recipe. The videos are not for the recipe you’ve just read, and there appears to be no rhyme or reason to which video will show up for a particular recipe.
There is beauty in chaos, and I believe Cambodian Recipes illustrates that statement very well. If you follow the link to the recipe for Cambodian bean thread noodle salad, you will find a video for banana sour soup with fish.
We are not likely to make banana sour soup with fish, you and I.
That is because there are some ingredients, like tamarind leaves and fermented fish, that we probably can’t find in the local Winn Dixie. Then there’s the variety of banana involved, which looks quite different than the Cavendish we’re used to, and which is prepared here in its raw green form, like a vegetable. Until I watched this video, I hadn’t seen green bananas cooked this way, and I like the idea.
The fermented fish, incidentally, is boiled in a pot, then removed and pressed over a sieve into the same pot to get all the flavor. I think the closest I could come to that ingredient and still have my wife eat the result is a good Thai fish sauce, unless I ferment the fish itself and I do not believe anyone in my home will allow that, including the cat.
That said, the videos are somewhat short on detail. “Add fishes then continue cooking until fishes are well cooked” is not something that would make it past a cookbook editor, but it is the sort of thing you’ll see at Cambodian Cooking.
“Add young banana after fish is properly cooked.” I will admit that I do not know how long it takes thinly sliced, starchy banana to cook in broth, and here again the instructions are less than explicit: “then continue cooking till banana well cooked.”
Lest you think I am poking fun at the author’s use of English, I assure you that I would fare a lot worse if I tried to write a recipe in Thai.
I love it because I am learning things about Thai food I did not know before and I love it because the folks behind this website assume you know how to cook the food they’re presenting. I don’t, but I bet I could figure it out given a few tries based on what I see in the end result of the video.
I love it because the author has a website that is full of similar videos. Will I make paddy field crabs soup? Maybe. Will I make BBQ stuffed whole frog? After looking at that video, probably.
Then there are some videos I will watch purely for educational purposes. I will never make fried pig intestines with pepper, because I have tried pig intestines (though I believe they were called “bungs”) and learned that I do not like pig intestines. But I will watch that video, and I suspect I will learn something.
Caveat: there is a looping track of Thai synth music accompanying each of the videos, and I found it pleasant but only for so long. Fortunately, the music is the only audio involved, so you can mute it and still enjoy the videos.
I hope that we all have a better 2022 than we did this past year. I hope we all take advantage of opportunities to learn about the things that interest us and that we do not succumb to whatever plague is next.