Kanom Jeen is a famous Thai dish enjoyed by millions of people all over Thailand. It's a truly memorable culinary delight of fermented rice noodles with spicy vegan coconut curry, served with a bounty of local vegetables, herbs, shoots, sprouts and pickles.
An array of colorful garnishes are placed down the middle of the table for everyone to build their own bowl... just how they like it!
There are limitless variations and combinations of Kanom Jeen. It beautifully encapsulates the way Thai people like to eat... Variety - fresh - colorful - seasonal - social - delicious!
In this recipe post I will be sharing some of the story around Kanom Jeen Nam Ya and I'll explain how to make your own Vegan version of this historic Thai dish at home.
- History of Kanom Jeen rice noodles
- What are Kanom Jeen noodles?
- What other types noodles can I use
- Star healthy ingredients of my Kanom Jeen recipe
- What equipment you will need
- Watch how to make it
- Lets get cooking
- 📋 Recipe
- What other garnishes can I use?
- Fun Fact on kanom jeen noodles
- Discover more of my Thai Vegan Recipes
- Happy Cooking
- Have you heard about my live online classes?
History of Kanom Jeen rice noodles
I love exploring the history and story behind classic dishes. It's a great way to learn and understand more about a culture, their people and traditions.
Thailand has a rich and diverse culinary heritage, with influences from neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia as well as a strong influence from China, who were some of the earliest settlers.
Portugal has even played a significant part in Thai culinary history, Phuket was a trading point for the Chinese and Portuguese during the 16th century Ayutthaya era. The Thai's can thank the Portuguese for bringing the chili to Thailand! Imagine Thai cuisine without chili? Kob Khun Mak Krab (Thank you in Thai) Portugal!
Kanom jeen are probably the only popular noodles in Thailand that did not come to Thailand via the Chinese. This is ironic as the word for Chinese in Thai sounds very much like jeen. Kanom jeen noodles are indigenous to South East Asia, and are thought to have originated among the Mon ethnic group, who called them kanawn jin.
Kanom jeen noodles are documented in the Ayuthaya Era (15th to 18th centuries) and may have existed as far back as the 8th to 11th centuries.
What are Kanom Jeen noodles?
Kanom jeen is a 100% rice noodle consisting of rice, water and (optional) salt. It is made by first fermenting the dough, then extruding the dough through a cylinder with holes into hot water for cooking.
Their strands are long, round, thin and elastic, with a beautiful white sheen and a pleasant chewy texture.
Two types of fresh kanom jeen noodles are available in the Thai markets:
1. Kanom jeen bpaaeng mak
These are the traditional and most sought-after kanom jeen noodles. Made from fermented rice starch, they have a distinctive tangy and nutty flavor because the rice starch is allowed to ferment for few days before cooking.
The fermentation is dominated by lactic acid microbes and yeasts. (Lactobacillus sp. and Streptococcus sp.) This process also improves the rice noodle’s texture and gives it a light-brownish color.
Fully fermented kanom keen noodles are not easy to find, and even harder to make. Their production requires skill, time, labor and group collaboration. They are only produced by communal or family-supported small manufacturers.
2. Kanom jeen bpaaeng soht
These are the most common variety, mass-produced and made from fresh rice starch.
As their popularity and demand grew, kanom jeen production was scaled up. Manufacturers began using non-fermented fresh starch to simplify production and to increase their yield.
How to eat Kanom Jeen
Thailand is a massive country of 70 million people stretching 2000km from the Southern Malaysian border to the Northern Burmese border. It's a fertile rich land with different climates throughout.
Each region of Thailand is proud of the way they eat various dishes. As we travel through Thailand, Kanom Jeen Nam Ya will show up in countless forms, each with its own unique regional identity.
No matter where you are; Kanom jeen is always eaten with fresh vegetables, boiled eggs and pickles as condiments.
- In the North of Thailand pickled cabbage and raw sprouts are typical.
- In the North East fresh vegetables, such as white popinac, climbing wattle and parsley are enjoyed.
- The central Thailand regions add banana blossoms, lentils, cucumbers, sprouts, raw papaya, basil, guto kola, bitter melon, and morning glory.
- Down South fresh vegetables such as parkia, white popinac, olives, and pickles are added.
What other types noodles can I use
Dried vermicilli rice noodles are a good substitute if you cannot get fresh kanom jeen noodles, which I guess will be difficult if you are outside Thailand.
Star healthy ingredients of my Kanom Jeen recipe
- Grachai dam
- Fermented rice noodles
- Pickles, fresh vegetables and herbs
One of the key ingredients "grachai" is hard to find fresh outside of Thailand, you can buy it in brine at Asian grocery stores that carry a lot of Thai ingredients.
Read all about the health benefits of ''grachai'' (fingerroot)
What equipment you will need
No fancy equipment is needed, all you will need is the following:
- Medium sized saucepan for making the sauce
- Blender to make the quick curry paste
- Chopping board
- Chefs knife
- Strainer for washing the vegetables and draining the noodles
- Some nice serving bowls
Watch how to make it
Lets get cooking
This dish is not something you can easily find in Thai restaurants around the world, so it's definitely something you have to make yourself if you want to experience it!
If you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments box below or tag #holisticchefacademy. Share with your friends and family who may like this recipe.
From my kitchen to yours; Happy cooking and good health wishes
Kanom Jeen - Thai Rice Noodles, Coconut Curry & Vegetables
For the Kanom Jeen curry sauce
For the mixed fresh vegetables and garnish
- 100 g Beansprouts
- 100 g White cabbage thinly slice
- 100 g Baby eggplant
- 50 g Bitter melon
- 50 g Pickled ginger
- 50 g Wing beans
- 50 g Long green beans
- 20 g Oakleaf salad
- 20 g Holy basil
For the noodles
- 600 g Kanom Jeen rice noodles or vermicelli noodles
For the Kanom Jeen curry sauce
- Assemble all ingredients.
- Place peeled baby onions and fingerroot into the blender along with some water. Blend for 20 seconds.
- Next add the curry paste, tofu and mushrooms. Blend until you have a nice smooth creamy mix.
- Add this creamy mushroom tofu mix to the saucepan and cook out gently for 3-5 minutes until you start to smell the aromas from the spices.
- Add the coconut milk and stir to the boil.
- Add the grated turmeric, soy sauce, palm sugar and salt.
- Cook out gently for 6-8 minutes.
- Check and adjust the seasoning by adding either more salt, soy sauce or palm sugar.
For the mixed fresh vegetables and garnish
- Wash and drain all the vegetables, salad and herbs.
- Cut the green beans and wing beans into nice shapes and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes - refresh in ice water to preserve the colour.
- Finely slice the cabbage.
- Arrange all the vegetables nicely on a sharing platter.
- Cook the rice noodles as per packet instructions, drain and place in a serving bowl.
- If using traditional Thai kanom jeen noodles, they are all ready to go, just place in the serving bowl.
- Pour some warm curry sauce on top of the noodles and garnish with all you favourite toppings.
- Celebrate and enjoy.
- As they say in Thailand ''Gin Cow''
ADD YOUR OWN RECIPE NOTES
What other garnishes can I use?
There really are no limits here! Add your favourite vegetables, pickles and herbs. Keep in mind what is local and seasonal in your region.
Here is a list of some ideas:
- Garden peas
- Various pickles
- Sliced onion
- Black garlic
- Sliced apple
- Dried fruits
- Mixed seeds
- Tempeh or tofu
Variety is the spice of lifeEat the rainbow
Fun Fact on kanom jeen noodles
It is fashionable in Thailand to serve kanom jeen at wedding ceremonies. The qualities of the noodles; long, white and elastic... suggest the longevity of the young couple’s love for each other, and indicates wishes for a long-lasting bond that will not be easily broken!
The collective efforts involved in making the noodles signifies that the young couple will remain a united family cell, and will help each other to overcome challenges together.
Discover more of my Thai Vegan Recipes
Remember, LOVE is the secret ingredient!
Have you heard about my live online classes?
I recently launched live online classes as a way to connect and cook with you from anywhere in the world. Come join me for a fun cooking class!
If you like this recipe post and find it interesting, please leave a comment and rating.