Salaw Machu Youn Recipe

Discover the tantalizing world of Cambodian cuisine with our Salaw Machu Youn recipe – a symphony of flavors that'll transport your taste buds!

Salaw Machu Youn

    Salaw Machu Youn

  • Cuisine: Cambodian
  • Category: Main Dish, Soup
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 150 calories

Salaw Machu Youn is a delightful Cambodian sour fish soup that exemplifies the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Cambodia. This traditional dish is a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and savory tastes, making it a staple in Cambodian households and a popular choice in local eateries.

Prepared with fresh fish fillets, the heart of this soup, Salaw Machu Youn is a testament to Cambodia's reliance on its abundant waterways and fisheries. The fish is simmered to perfection in a fragrant broth infused with lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves. These aromatic ingredients contribute to the soup's distinct and inviting aroma.

The balance of flavors in Salaw Machu Youn is achieved through the addition of fish sauce for saltiness, tamarind paste for tanginess, and a touch of sugar to add a hint of sweetness. This careful harmony results in a broth that is both comforting and invigorating to the palate.

Typically, the soup is enhanced with fresh vegetables like water spinach or morning glory, imparting a delightful crunch and freshness to each spoonful. A garnish of fragrant herbs, such as cilantro and Thai basil, adds a final layer of aromatic charm.

In Cambodian cuisine, Salaw Machu Youn represents the nation's passion for combining fresh ingredients with a symphony of flavors. Whether enjoyed as a nourishing family meal or shared among friends, this sour fish soup captures the essence of Cambodian culinary heritage.


Explore the authentic Salaw Machu Youn recipe - a Cambodian delight bursting with flavors. Create this iconic dish with our step-by-step guide!


  • 500g fish fillets (snakehead fish is traditional, but any white fish works)
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
  • 2-3 slices of galangal (or ginger if unavailable)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 slices of turmeric
  • 1-2 hot chili peppers, sliced (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamarind paste (adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh vegetables (like water spinach or morning glory)
  • Fresh herbs (such as cilantro and Thai basil)

Method Instructions

  1. Clean the fish fillets and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, chili peppers, and kaffir lime leaves. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  3. Add the fish fillets to the simmering broth and cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through (usually about 5-7 minutes).
  4. Season the soup with fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar, and salt. Adjust these seasonings to achieve the right balance of sour, salty, and sweet according to your taste.
  5. Add fresh vegetables to the pot and cook until they are tender but still crisp.
  6. Remove the pot from heat, discard the lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves.
  7. Serve the Salaw Machu Youn hot, garnished with fresh herbs. It's often eaten with rice.

Recipe Video

Salaw Machu Youn

This is a video about Salaw Machu Youn.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 213 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Salaw Machu Youn, Salaw Machu Youn Recipe, Recipe


Serving Salaw Machu Youn is a delightful experience that showcases the vibrant colors and flavors of this Cambodian sour fish soup. Here's how to serve it:

  1. Soup Bowls: Ladle the hot Salaw Machu Youn into individual soup bowls. Make sure each serving includes a generous portion of fish, vegetables, and flavorful broth.
  2. Garnishes: Before serving, garnish each bowl with fresh herbs like cilantro and Thai basil. These herbs not only add a burst of aroma but also enhance the visual appeal of the dish.
  3. Accompaniments: Salaw Machu Youn is often served with a side of steamed jasmine rice. The rice serves as a perfect complement to the sour and savory flavors of the soup. Place a small bowl of rice on the table for each diner to enjoy with their soup.
  4. Condiments (Optional): Some people like to customize the flavor of their soup further. You can provide condiments like additional fish sauce, chili paste, or lime wedges on the table so that diners can adjust the taste to their liking.
  5. Serve Hot: This soup is best enjoyed piping hot, so be sure to serve it immediately after cooking.
  6. Enjoy Family-Style: Cambodian meals are often served family-style, with everyone sharing dishes placed in the center of the table. Salaw Machu Youn can be part of a larger Cambodian meal with multiple dishes.


  1. Fresh Ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh and high-quality ingredients. Fresh fish and aromatic herbs are key to achieving the authentic flavors of this dish.
  2. Tamarind Paste: Adjust the amount of tamarind paste to your taste preference. Tamarind adds the sour element to the soup, so you can add more or less to achieve the level of tanginess you enjoy.
  3. Fish Choice: While snakehead fish is traditional, you can use any firm white fish like tilapia, catfish, or cod. Make sure the fish is fresh and boneless for ease of preparation.
  4. Vegetables: Feel free to get creative with the vegetables. Water spinach and morning glory are common choices, but you can also use bok choy, spinach, or other greens that you prefer.
  5. Galangal and Kaffir Lime Leaves: While these ingredients add authentic flavors, they can be challenging to find in some areas. If you can't find them, you can substitute ginger for galangal and use regular lime leaves if kaffir lime leaves are unavailable.
  6. Taste as You Go: Adjust the seasonings (fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, and salt) gradually, tasting the soup as you add them. This ensures you achieve the perfect balance of flavors to suit your palate.
  7. Consistency: Salaw Machu Youn is a soup, so the consistency should be slightly brothy. If it becomes too thick, you can add a bit more water to reach the desired texture.
  8. Garnish Fresh: Add the fresh herbs just before serving to preserve their aroma and flavor.
  9. Side Dishes: Consider serving the soup with additional side dishes like fried or steamed fish cakes, which are commonly enjoyed alongside Cambodian soups.
  10. Enjoy with Rice: Don't forget to serve it with steamed jasmine rice. The combination of the soup and rice is a classic and satisfying Cambodian meal.
  11. Share and Enjoy: Cambodian cuisine often emphasizes communal dining, so share this delicious soup with family and friends for an authentic experience.

Ingredient Substitutes

If you're missing some of the ingredients for Salaw Machu Youn, you can make some substitutions to still create a flavorful dish. Below are some common ingredient substitutions:

  1. Fish: While snakehead fish is traditional, you can substitute it with other white fish like tilapia, catfish, cod, or even shrimp. Just ensure that the seafood is fresh and boneless.
  2. Galangal: If you can't find galangal, you can use ginger as a substitute. While the flavors are not identical, ginger can provide a similar aromatic and slightly spicy element.
  3. Kaffir Lime Leaves: If you can't find fresh kaffir lime leaves, you can use dried kaffir lime leaves. Alternatively, you can use regular lime leaves or even a small amount of lime zest to add citrusy notes to the soup.
  4. Tamarind Paste: Tamarind paste can be replaced with lime or lemon juice for a sour element. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust to your taste.
  5. Fish Sauce: You can substitute fish sauce with soy sauce for a vegetarian version of the soup. Coconut aminos can also be used as a soy sauce alternative.
  6. Turmeric: If fresh turmeric is unavailable, you can use ground turmeric. Remember that ground turmeric is more concentrated, so use it sparingly.
  7. Chili Peppers: Adjust the type and quantity of chili peppers based on your spice preference. You can use milder chili varieties or omit them altogether if you prefer a less spicy soup.
  8. Vegetables: Feel free to customize the vegetables based on what's available. Spinach, bok choy, or other leafy greens can be used as substitutes for water spinach or morning glory.
  9. Herbs: If you can't find Thai basil or cilantro, you can use regular basil or parsley for garnish. These herbs will provide a different flavor profile but will still enhance the dish.
  10. Lemongrass: Lemongrass adds a unique citrusy flavor, but if you can't find it, you can use a bit of lemon or lime zest for a similar aroma.


Thank you for joining us on this culinary journey through Cambodian cuisine. We hope our Salaw Machu Youn recipe brings joy and deliciousness to your table. Bon appétit!

Next Post Previous Post