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Num banhchok

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Num banhchok
Alternative namesNum banh chok, Cambodian rice noodles,[1] Khmer noodles, nom panchok, nom pachok, noum bahnchok, num panchok, num pachok[2]
CourseBreakfast or sometimes lunch
Place of originCambodia
Region or stateSoutheast Asia
Associated cuisineCambodian and Cham cuisine[3]
Serving temperatureWarm to room temperature[2]
Main ingredientsRice ; Prohok (ប្រហុក)
VariationsSee variations
Similar disheskhanom chin, bún, mixian

Num banhchok (Khmer: នំបញ្ចុក, num bânhchŏk Khmer pronunciation: [nom ɓaɲcok]) are lightly fermented Cambodian rice noodles and a breakfast noodle dish.[2]

banhchok "បញ្ចុក" translates to "to feed" in Khmer language.


Num banhchok is made by soaking rice for 2–4 hours and grinding it into a liquidy paste. The paste is pressed into round shapes and dried inside calico bags. Then it is pulverized and turned into a viscous paste, which is extruded into boiling water. The noodles are boiled for 3–4 minutes and transferred to cold water.[4]


There are many variations of num banhchok across the country.

  • Num banhchok samlor proher (សម្លរប្រហើរនំបញ្ចុក) with a base made out of yellow or yellow-green kroeung, pounded from either lemongrass stalks (for yellow kroeung) or leaves (for green kroeung), kaffir lime leaves and zest, garlic, turmeric, and fingerroot, freshwater fish (usually snakehead), prahok and coconut milk or coconut cream.[2]
  • Num banhchok Siem Reap (នំបញ្ចុកសៀមរាប) shares the same ingredients as num banhchok samlor proher, but has a thinner consistency when no coconut milk or coconut cream is added. Sometimes fish sauce is used to replace prahok, while others argue that without prahok it's not num banhchok Siem Reap.[2]
  • Num banhchok samlor Khmer (នំបញ្ចុកសម្លខ្មែរ) with a base made out of green kroeung with pounded fish and varying amount of lemongrass with or without the addition of coconut milk. It is served with a peanut-based relish.[2]
  • Num banhchok samlor teuk trei phaem with a base made out of coconut milk or coconut cream, and a sour and sweet (pahem) sauce made out of ingredients, such as fish sauce, smoked fish, grated coconut, ground peanuts and tamarind juice.[2]
  • Num banhchok samlor namya (នំបញ្ចុកសម្លណាំយ៉ា) or num banhchok ktis trei with a red curry (samlor cari) base made out of red kroeung and coconut milk with fish and often shrimp paste and fish sauce.[2]
  • Num banhchok samlor cari (នំបញ្ចុកសម្លការី) with red curry base made out of coconut milk-based red kroeung with meat (chicken or beef, as well as optinal offal and pig blood curd) instead of fish, and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and onions.[2]
  • Num banhchok Kampot – a regional specialty of Kampot prepared with peanuts, dried shrimp, Kampot fish sauce made from saltwater fish and, occasionally, sliced fish cakes. Unlike other variations that are eaten at room temperature, num banhchok Kampot is typically eaten cold.[2]
  • Num banhchok samlor makod – a royal version of num banhchok with chicken livers, Cognac and green peas included in Princess Rasmi Sobhana's 1965 "The Cambodian Cookbook" published by American Women's Club of Cambodia.[5]

Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City-based eatery Pizza 4P's makes a fusion num banhchok pizza with a yellow kroeung, coconut milk and prahok sauce, freshwater fish, cheese, peanuts, water celery, basil, water mimosa, banana blossoms, water hyacinths and sesbania flowers.[6]

In folklore[edit]

Num banhchok is featured in a popular Khmer folk legend about an influential revolutionary and scholar Thon Chey who was exiled to China by the Khmer king, where Thon Chey began making num banhchok to make a living. The dish quickly gained popularity among the Chinese and eventually attracted even the attention of the Chinese emperor. The emperor summoned Thon Chey to bring num banhchok to his palace. Thon Chey arrived and while the emperor was tasting the dish Thon Chey managed to see the emperor's face, comparing it to a dog and the face of his Khmer king to that of a bright full moon, for which Thon Chey was immediately thrown into jail. However, soon Thon Chey managed to get released and eventually returned to the Khmer Empire.[7][5]

In politics[edit]

In May 2019, the National Police began detaining former members and supporters of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for attending noodle dinners[8] that were deemed as political gatherings. In response co-founder of the CNRP Sam Rainsy called all Cambodians to gather for a bowl of num banhchok on 9 June "for the sake of friendship in the framework of the entire, giant Cambodian family."[9]

His calls were soon followed by the Prime Minister Hun Sen who appealed to the members of his Cambodian People's Party to also gather the same day and eat "Khmer noodles of unity and solidarity",[10] but denied it being a step towards negotiations with the opposition.[11] It was estimated by Sen that from 7 to 8 million people would take part in the eating of num banhchok on 9 June.[12]

Sen also proposed launching a promotional campaign for Cambodian food and culture,[9] and two months later Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts began preparing an application for the inclusion of num banhchok in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[13]


  1. ^ Sopheak, Sao, ed. (2020). The Taste of Angkor. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia. p. 32. ISBN 978-9924-9486-0-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dunston, Lara (7 February 2020). "Nom Banh Chok Fermented Rice Noodles Are Cambodia in a Bowl". Grantourismo Travels. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  3. ^ Nakamura, Rie (6 May 2020). "Food and Ethnic identity in the Cham Refugee Community in Malaysia". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 93 (2): 153–164. doi:10.1353/ras.2020.0024. S2CID 235029137. A majority of the Cham refugees in Malaysia came from Cambodia, and most 'Cham' dishes found in Malaysia originate from Cambodia, including leas hal (a salty/spicy sun-dried shellfish), banh chok (rice vermicelli noodle soup), and nom kong (a kind of donut). The Muslim Cham from the Mekong Delta region in Vietnam are familiar with Cambodian food since many of them routinely moved back and forth across the border with Cambodia in the past for business or to visit relatives.
  4. ^ Khat, Leakhena (4 November 2017). "Num Banh Chok: More Than Just Rice Noodles to Khmer (video)". AEC News Today. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b Goldberg, Lina (5 March 2013). "Khmer noodles: The story of num banh chok". Move to Cambodia. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  6. ^ Simala, Pan (5 July 2022). "Num banh chok pizza a new fusion hit". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  7. ^ Gall, Darren (16 November 2021). "Num Banh Chok". Vindochine. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Cambodia Cracking Down on Noodle Dinners Attended by Opposition Supporters". Radio Free Asia. 23 May 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b Sopheng, Cheang (10 June 2019). "Near-erasure of Cambodian opposition makes noodles a target". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  10. ^ Chheng, Niem (4 June 2019). "Eat 'Khmer noodles of solidarity', PM urges". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  11. ^ Savi, Khorn (7 June 2019). "Khmer noodle movement not for CNRP talks, says PM". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  12. ^ Sophirom, Khan (6 June 2019). "7-8 Million People Expected To Eat Num Banh Chok This Weekend". Agence Kampuchea Press. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  13. ^ Chakrya, Khouth Sophak (22 August 2019). "Ministries seeking heritage status for Num Banh Chok". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 14 November 2020.

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