Khanom Jeen Nam Ya (Rice Noodles With Thai Fish Curry)


Cooking is a priority especially when I am crashing in my bestie’s crib in south Holland for only two nights and the fact that she loves to eat and cook as I do, makes it even more special. So, I thought of making one of my grandmother’s recipe which is khanom jeen nam ya and was excited to cook it because she adores this southern Thai noodles to bits!

Khanom jeen is basically thin rice noodles made from fermented rice. The noodles are eaten with a generous amount of curry and a handful of fresh vegetables. The noodles are served with different types of curries; however today, I am sharing this nam ya recipe which is a lightly creamy and spicy Southern style fish curry made from turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, dried red and fresh chilies, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, kaffir lime rind, coriander roots and coconut milk. And then of course, you’ve got to round the dish with pickles and fresh raw vegetables. Toss it all together and there you have it – a perfect one dish meal!


Recipe for the curry in this link in (B) –

Oh, three things – if you are unable to find galangal to make this dish, that is perfectly fine but do not substitute with ginger. Secondly, the curry is good even without the kaffir lime rind. Thirdly, if you do have tamarind paste on hand, you can put some to the curry, adjust to your liking but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be sour. As my grandmother did not use tamarind in her recipe and aiming to preserve her culinary heritage I, too do not use any souring agent for the dish. However, I normally serve this dish with limes on the side as some of my family members love a hint of freshness from the lime in the rich sauce. Now, this curry should be rich and creamy, so do not skimp on the spice and coconut milk. Here in Holland, I couldn’t get my hands on khanom jeen noodles so I bought Singaporean rice noodles as suggested by my best friend. It was absolutely perfect! If you cannot get khanom jeen noodles, try to look for Vietnamese noodle packaging – Bun Giang Tay or spaghettini if you’d like.

Level: Sort of easy

800 gm of mackerel, tilapia or any white firm sea fish, cut

Khanom jeen noodles or any rice vermicelli noodles you can find

2200 – 2500 ml of coconut milk

2 stalks of lemongrass

fish sauce/salt

1-2 tamarind peel (optional)

20 kaffir lime leaves, slightly bruised (8 leaves to boil with fish, 12 leaves for curry)

For serving:

Medium boiled eggs (7-8 minutes)


Long beans

Beans sprouts


Pickled Mustard Greens

Basil leaves

Lime wedges (optional if tamarind peel is not used)

First, prepare the noodles as per packet instructions and set aside.

Next, boil the fish in a pot of boiling water with kaffir leaves and 2 stalks of lemongrass. Boil for about 8 to 10 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove the fish from the pot and allow it to cool. Then, remove the bones and skin and slightly pound the fish in a pestle and mortar. I like my fish to be slightly chunky, you can go for a finer texture if you’d like. Set aside.

For the curry, in a large pot over a low heat stir in the curry paste and a cup of coconut milk. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring only in one direction combining the curry paste and coconut milk. Add in the rest of the coconut milk. Then stir in the fish, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves. Keep stirring and when it comes to a boil, turn down the heat. It should not be bubbling aggressively. Stir in tamarind peels if using. Keep in mind that the curry shouldn’t be sour. Season to taste. Serve with noodles and fresh vegetables.