Cambodian Gumbo

With a thick consistency and deep, rich flavor, it’s no wonder this soup is known as Cambodian Gumbo!

Somlaw Kako – A hearty and thick soup with roasted rice and variety of vegetables and your choice of protein
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Cambodian
Keyword: Cambodian Gumbo, Cambodian Soup, Gumbo, Khmer Soup, Somlaw Kako
Servings: 10
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Channy Laux


  • Large pot (10 quarts)


  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp (100g) prahok paste(no bone)*
  • 7 ounces Angkor Lemongrass Paste
  • 2 pounds catfish fillet 2" strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups pearl eggplant dry-roasted
  • 1.5 pounds green papaya partially skinned, deseeded, and shredded
  • 1 pound winter melon remove skin and cut into bite size
  • 1 pound bitter melon deseeded and sliced crosswise ¼" thick
  • 1 pound kabocha pumpkin remove some skin and cut into 1.5" cubes
  • 5 Thai eggplant (trob sroy) discard stem and cut into bite size
  • 1 pound long bean cut into 2" length
  • 9 ounces roasted rice course ground
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 pounds green leaves (pepper tops, pumpkin tops, moranga, tomato tops)* remove stems


  • Prepare the base –
    – Cook prahok in oil over low heat until the moisture evaporates and prahok begins to change color & texture. Takes about 10 minutes.
    – Add lemongrass paste and stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes until the paste stick together.
    – Add in about ¼ cups of water mix well. Add in fish and increase heat to medium, simmer for about 3 minutes until the meat change color but not completely cook.
    – Add the rest of the 4 cups water, bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, until fish is fully cooked.
    – Remove fish from the pot and set aside.
  • Add vegetables – Stir in vegetables until they begin to wilt and they are evenly coated with the soup base.
  • Add Roasted Rice – Add roasted rice and mix well. Stir occasionally to allow the veggies to wilt evenly and roasted rice do not scorch the bottom of the pot. Add water and continue cooking until veggies are tender to your liking.
  • Add Fish back – Add fish stir
  • Add leaves – Turn off the heat, add green leaves and mix well. Salt to taste.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 704mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg


Traditionally this soup is served with a small bowl of fish sauce, sliced Bird’s Eye Chili, and steamed rice. I sometimes add extra roasted rice and enjoy this soup without any steamed rice.  
  • Prahok can be substituted with Anchovy paste or 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • This soup can be prepared with chicken and/or pork belly 
This is a wonderful soup to make when you have your own backyard garden.  Many of the tender tops of your garden are perfect for the leaves ingredient in this soup Get More From Your Garden. You can also use kale as a substitute for these green leaves.   
Tried this recipe?Mention @AngkorFood or tag #angkorfood, thank you!

Published by Channy Laux

Channy Laux is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. She was thirteen-years-old when the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975. From 1975 to 1979, Channy endured starvation, horrendous working conditions, sickness and repeated separations from her family. In June of 1979, Channy arrived in Lincoln Nebraska as a refugee. After four years of no school and not knowing a word of English, she attended Lincoln High School; earned a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Santa Clara University and undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Channy worked in Silicon Valley as an engineer in the Aerospace and Biotech industries for 30 years. In 2017 Channy decided to focus on completing a promise that she made to herself as she and her family struggled to survive the Cambodian genocide. “If I ever make it out alive, I will make sure the world knows what happened to us.” Channy published her memoir “Short Hair Detention”, which receives multiple awards, including Nebraska’s 2018 Book Award. Channy is also founder of Angkor Cambodian Food. Her goal is to bring Cambodian cuisine into American kitchens, by providing authentic and hard to find ingredients along with easy to follow recipes. One of her creations Kroeurng (Lemongrass cooking paste) receives sofiTM Award from Specialty Foods and Innovation Foodservice Award from IFMA. Channy now balances her time between her business and educating communities on the Cambodian Genocide. She works with schools and other organizations to promote awareness of Cambodian Genocide. She is a member of Speakers Bureau for JFCS Holocaust Center.

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