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Don't let not owning a boat stop you from making this famous Thai noodle dish.

If you love Thai food (we mean really love Thai food), familiarize yourself with the cuisine of Hong Thaimee, chef at NYC hot spot Ngam and author of the new release True Thai: Real Flavors for Every Table. The modern interpretations of her native cuisine have proven to be a hit with everyone from pad thai purists to the the most adventurous eaters out there. For example: this famous rich Thai noodle soup that’s been sold from boats on Bangkok canals for the better part of a century. 

It’s a little-known fact that Bangkok was once called the Venice of the East. During the nineteenth century, the city was home to a system of expansive canals (called klongs) that connected houses, temples, and public spaces. Boating was the most common form of transportation for both people and commerce. At one point, there were more floating markets than land-based ones! Bangkok’s transport system shifted to roads at the turn of the twentieth century, but some of the foods that originated within the canal lifestyle have survived.

Perhaps the most famous of these is boat noodles, a small but rich pho-like dish served with fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, crispy pork skin, and a row of condiments. Two Bangkok neighborhoods are synonymous with boat noodles: Rangsit and Anutsaovaree Chaisamorapoom (aka Victory Monument).

My very favorite version to order is woonsen moo chin sod tok perm nam perm pak. My former teachers would not approve of that sloppy Thai grammar, but that’s how we say it at the noodle stalls! It means “I’ll have vermicelli noodles with pork, pork ball, extra-bloody broth, and extra vegetables.” It should come as no surprise that a noodle lover like me would leave a stack of bowls behind on the table!

Note: This recipe is a nam tok broth, which means it contains blood. But if bloody broth is too adventurous for you, you can try it without. In that case, this bowl of noodles would be called nam sai. You can make the same recipe with beef if you are not a pork eater.

Reprinted with permission from True Thai