Traditional Khmer Simlo soup

August 20, 2023 - 07:28
With restauranteur Lê Thị Ngọc Hân
Restaurateur Lê Thị Ngọc Hân

Lê Thị Ngọc Hân is the owner of a restaurant called "Lẩu Cá Đuối 34" (Stingray Hotpot 34) in Thủ Đức City, which specialises in seafood dishes, including stingray hotpot. She has many years of experience being a self-taught cook and usually shares her recipes online.

Simlo is a traditional ethnic Khmer soup, with its name derived from the Khmer word som lo m’chu, meaning sour soup. Different from a similar variety, Samlor soup, which has a distinctive taste of prahok (a salted and fermented fish), Simlo has a balancing sweet and sour taste. The soup can be done quickly and goes perfectly with hot rice or vermicelli.

Khmer Simlo soup


  • 200g dried snakehead fish
  • 1 litre of water or coconut water
  • 1 banana flower
  • 1 lemongrass (minced)
  • 1 bird's eye chilli (half minced, half thinly sliced)
  • 3 culantro leaves (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil
  • Fish sauce, salt and sugar (to taste)
  • Sour fermented rice (to taste)
Ingredients for the Simlo soup


- Cut the dried snakehead fish into bite-sized pieces (optional to pan fry beforehand to bring out the flavour)

- Coconut water can be used to add natural sweetness, but the flavour of the dish will not stay original

- Remove the outer layer of the banana flower, take the white core inside and cut into small pieces. Soak the banana flower in lime water for five minutes to retain its colour, then rinse thoroughly

- It is optional to sift the fermented rice to make the broth clearer

- Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat, add the garlic, lemongrass, and chilli then sauté until fragrant

- Add in the dried snakehead fish, mix thoroughly (if you do not pan fry the fish beforehand, let it sit longer to enhance the flavour)

- Pour in water or coconut water, then add the fermented rice, salt, sugar, and fish sauce according to taste (the sourness of the fermented rice may vary between brands, and the dried snakehead fish is already salty, so taste as you go and season the broth gradually)

- Add in the banana flower, bring to boil for one to three minutes or longer if you prefer a softer texture, then turn off the heat

- Place the soup in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves and chilli


- The soup can be paired with hot rice or vermicelli. VNS