Ingredients:
  • 750 gm (1 1/2-to 2 lb) catfish, sliced into chunks
  • 1 Tbsp prahok (This is a preserved fish and quite strong in aroma initially)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, hard outer layers removed, sliced into 5 cm (~2 in) pieces, pound lightly to bruise and release the fragrance and oils
  • 1/2 cup krachai (finger-root), peeled
  • 2 tsp. galangal
  • 3 dried Thai chillies. (Rehydrate and deseed to your preference)
  • 1/4 cup garlic cloves with peel
  • 1/4 cup shallots, peeled
  • 1 small mackerel, steamed and deboned
  • 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) unsweetened coconut milk and cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 bundles somen noodles or Wun Sen noodles.
  • 4 sprigs Thai basil (*horapha)
 
*optional accompaniments
  •  1 cup 2 cm (1 in) washed and sliced green beans
  • 1 ½ cup washed bean sprouts (trimmed of roots)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 cup sweet basil leaves (*horapha)
Method:
  1. Place the catfish in a pan with 3 cups of boiling water. Cook until the fish is done about 15 minutes Remove and place fish on tray to cool. Add the prahok to the simmering broth, and turn heat to medium and continue simmering for boil for 6 minutes. Remove salted fish and place on the tray with the catfish to cool.
  2. Add the lemon grass, krachai and chillies to the broth and boil for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and shallots and boil for another 5 minutes. Remove these ingredients and place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Debone the fish.
  4. Place the fish and ingredients from the bowl in a food processor adding a little of the reserved broth to achieve a smooth paste. Put this prepared paste into the remaining broth.
  5. Add the coconut milk (liquid and cream) to the broth and fish paste, stir, and heat thoroughly. Add fish sauce (nam Plah) to desired taste.
  6. This can be made ahead of time up to this point and kept covered in the refrigerator.
  7. When ready to serve you just reheat the Namya.
  8. Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the noodles. Drop the noodles into the boiling water (be sure and remove the little plastic wraps) Boil them on a simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Remove the noodles from the water in 4 equal portions. You can cool the noodles down in cold water to allow you to serve them in a figure eight fashion if you so desire for easy serving. It's easy to just plate each portion of noodles in their individual shallow bowls, pour Namya Curry on top of each serving making sure the sauce penetrates the noodle bundles.
  9. Garnish with sprigs of Thai Basil (Bai Horpha).

Notes:
  • Krachai bottled in brine or frozen can be bought in Asian markets.
  • Prahok is the Cambodian version of fermented fish and is available in glass jars in Asian Grocers. It has a very long shelf life so one jar will do a few various recipes over a few years. The Thai version Plaa is almost identical but not  exported. Please note that this product is particularly strong in aroma. The western nose if unfailiar may find it over-powering or even repulsive. Certainly people who don't like fish are noticeably averse to this aroma. It's worthwhile making sure that you have the extractors working with good ventilation or open the product outdoors and return with covered dishes. The smell tones down dramatically on cooking and simply becomes a relatively strong fish flavour
  • Generally Thais don't blanch their green raw vegetables like beans and bean sprouts. I've never noticed them to be tough or anything but very pleasant in taste. Scrupulous washing though is important.
*Horapha is also known as Basil Anise.

The flavour of this dish is probably the most popular choices for noodle dishes in Thailand. In this case it's served with fish there are other related dishes served with chicken but the essence remains the same. It's a full on umami experience with a sweet aromatic flavour included. It's really worth your while if you enjoy quite savoury flavours.