Interview: Mylinh Nakry Danh from Khmer Krom Recipes

At the second and penultimate New Year, I made a bold resolution to do a spot of interviewing about Cambodian food as an adjunct to simply rocking up to somebody’s stall and asking the vendor what they’re deep-frying today. I’ve also been enthused by Andy Brouwer’s new blog that profiles Cambodians from all walks of life.

The shining light in online Cambodian recipes is Khmer Krom Recipes. At the moment, there is no other English-language Khmer food resource as comprehensive: currently the site lists 561 recipes according to the site’s Khmer Krom expat owner, Mylinh Nakry Danh, not to mention spotter’s guides to Cambodian ingredients, fruit and vegetables.

Now living in the USA, Mylinh started the site as a way to “do something to keep our Khmer Krom culture alive and visible to the public. So much of our culture is take over or disappearing over time as our country was taken and given away to Vietnamese”. I’m all for mixing food and politics, and Kampuchea Krom/Cambodian border politics are some of the murkiest, emotive, and more dangerous of the identity politics locally available. Thanks to my extreme lack of knowledge of these affairs and this website being about Cambodian food, I stuck to asking occasionally torturous questions about Mylinh’s recipes by email.

Who taught you to cook? Who was the best cook in your family?

I learned how to cook from my parents, family and friends. My mom is very good cook but my dad is the best cook in my family. Sorry, mom.

Are there any ingredients that are impossible to find in America?

America is a big country, every state is different, and one state may carry more Asian food than other. I can only tell you that where I live it is hard to find Cambodian ingredients. For example, Cambodian sausage (made with beef), dried salty fish “ngiet trey tok”, pahok trey naing (pickle Asian catfish), and vegetables like fresh bamboo shoots, fresh Neem leaf, “Sadao”, just to name a few. Possibly living in a very large Cambodian community such as Long Beach, California or Lowell, Massachusetts, there would be more of these ingredients available.

Are there foods that you especially miss from Cambodia?

You’re torture me with this question because I miss so many foods from home.

I miss “num pong”, it is white fluffy coconut rice cake that steamed in bamboo stalk. It’s not too sweet and absolutely delicious. I miss “tirk tholk” the most, it is fresh palm juice, not only I miss “tirk tholk” I also miss seeing the elderly man carry heavy bamboo stalks that filled with delicious palm juice on his shoulder. I miss Kampuchea Krom.

Since being in America, do you think that your ideas about food have changed?

My answer: Yes, of course. Now that I am explored more on foods and flavors from all over the world and they are all very good. But I am always drawn back to the traditional foods of my childhood.

Are there any regional differences between recipes from Kampuchea Krom and those from elsewhere in Cambodia? Are there any regional specialties?

Yes, I think that happens everywhere in the world not just only Khmer in Kampuchea Krom and Khmer in Cambodia. “Salor machu” is sweet, sour soup in English. Some Khmer like their “salor machu” spicy hot, other like sweeter or sourer, some Khmer can’t cook with out MSG and some Khmer can’t live without ” pahok” (pickle fish). How do you cook rice? Some people like rice stick together so they add more water. Some people like their rice fluffy so they use less water, but no matter how you cook, its all cooked rice.

There are 21 provinces in Kampuchea Krom and each province has their specialties. For example: Mee Sar (My Tho) province has excellent noodle that made with mung bean. Kamourn Sor (Rach Gia) province is world renowned for seafood and Koh Tral (Phu Quoc) is land for fish sauce. Mott Chrouk (Chau Doc) province is known for Mam (fermented fish) and Pahok (pickle fish).

Do you have a favourite recipe from your website that I could share with my readers?

It’s difficult for me to pick just one out of 561 recipes that on my website because they are my favorite. However, I think your readers will enjoy Khmer Krom vegetarian spring roll.

19 thoughts on “Interview: Mylinh Nakry Danh from Khmer Krom Recipes”

  1. taht website is the most stinking pile of shit EVER.

    not to hate but 70 percent of the recipes on there are PURELY vietnamese. khmer krom refer to khmer living in vietnam so that makes sense that they’d eat vietnamese food but to pass them off as cambodian is HILARIOUS.

    of course there are a few similarities in terms of a few dishes, but the amount of purely vietnamese dishhes she has on there is INSANE.

    what’s worse, is that she even claims chinese dishes from cambodia! she claims the ever popular xa xiu meat as cambodian in origin! how far can one go in their lies?

    her sections about khmer krom also include unfounded hate for vietnamese…absolutely hilarious. that website is a joke and a lie.

    ask any camboidan person and they’ll tell u about what foods are really cambodian and vietnamese

  2. I think her website is wonderful. Being Khmer I find many foods that I am familiar with not as Vietnamese foods but, as foods that I eat in my own household everyday. I value this website being the ONLY website that is dedicated to Khmer food in english. I showed my mother her website and she got a kick out of it. Thank you Mylinh!

  3. You say pesto, I say pistou…

    wtf seems to be very bitchy about this poor Khmer Krom Recipes web site. If there is one thing that travels quite well is food. It is very hard to be sure that some foods are from a country and some from another. The best example is between French food and Italian food. It is very hard to say who have influenced the other the most. Italy actually brought a lot to France during the Renaissance (the fork of course, but also the way to cook vegetables, the way to use less spices, traditional but forgotten vegetables…) and France bought a lot to Italy those two passed centuries.

    An old relative of mine in my home town only fed herself with cabbage and boiled old pigeon. It is really traditional French food, but I would not go around and clam it so much.

    I think that around here every country have been occupied enough by others to be able to say that it is almost impossible to say what’s really from where. Of course one could try to look at the basic ingredients to figure out, but then even here so many things come from America…

    Culinary fundamentalism only leads to boiled cabbage with pigeon. Duke Ellington said that “as long as it sounds good, it is good,” I’ll stick to it for food.

  4. I just found out this post and I have to say that wtf is right about that web site khmer krom recipes although he/she could have chosen other words to avoid being label a ‘troll’ by someone who is not familiar with Vietnamese foods. The person behind that web site, in my humble opinion, has been assimilated by Vietnamese and doesn’t know it. I laughed and laughed when she claim that ‘pho’, possibly the most Vietnamese noodle soup outside of Vietnam, came from Khmer Krom. Every Vietnamese knows it came from the northern region of Vietnam. I laughed some more when she claimed the Chinese ‘xa xiu’ also came from Khmer (not Khmer Krom this time). I laughed some more when she use ‘mam ruoc’ (fermented shrimp paste) in her recipe and claim it as Khmer Krom even though ‘mam ruoc’ is also called ‘mam ruoc Hue’, name after the imperial city of Hue in central Vietnam.

    The thing about the author is that she lets her ignorance and her hatred of everything Vietnamese to cloud her memory of one of Buddha’s teaching: Don’t steal.

  5. Did you know that Pho actually comes from China with a heavy French influence on technique. The Khmer dynasties were in turn influenced by China and India. The Khmer dynasty influnced their neighbors as did they to Cambodia. Where does anything really come from? The only recepies people can really call their own are where the vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and meats are indigenous ONLY to that area and the cooking techniques are localised.

  6. Non of you know what the hell your talking about do any of you know the history of cambodia. Cambodia prince married to vietnam princess there for as a present to their kids the king broke a piece of the land off thats how there are khmer that speak vietnam and vietnam that speak khmer. Soon each made their own country and form their own culture and everyone claim to be the original. Look in the damn history book. And the food that claim to be vietnam is actually khmer food as well the only thing is that you cant find product that made in khmer by khmer in US. So you you the neighboring country. Please dont say one ignorant when you urself are ignorant

  7. I have also read that girl’s web site and I have to say that she has very funny logics concerning the origin of the foods. She claims that “bun bo Hue” or Hue noodle soup (Hue being the former imperial city of VN) is a Khmer Krom creation. Her logic is that Hue used to be Champa territory (true, different name). The Khmer empire controlled Champa (also true, but only for a few years). Therefore, Hue noodle soup is a Khmer Krom creation ha ha ha. She hasn’t even proved that Hue noodle soup was already present during Champa time, nor has she explained why the Chams name the dish Hue noodle soup.

    If you want to know what dish is real Vietnamese dish, just replace the term “Khmer Krom” with Vietnamese on that web site. If the food is Khmer, she would pass it off as Khmer, but if it’s Vietnamese food, she would claim it’s Khmer Krom food.

    Oh yeah, she also takes pictures of women wearing the vietnamese cone hats and claims that they are Khmer Krom women. It looks like all those Khmer Krom women have been converted to Vietnamese. She hasn’t claim that those women are wearing Khmer Krom cone hats, at least not yet ha ha ha ha ha.

  8. Please all my Vietnamese sons and daughters. Khmer Krom is the native owner of these piece of land so call Vietnam presently. Anything that Vietnam has today belongs to these Native, Khmer Kroms. I ordered you to respect their right as owner of the land. I told Ho Chi Minh, Pham Van Dong, Vo Van Ket, Vo Ngyen Giap, Nguyen Co Thach and many others damn bastard to cooperate with them to transfer right to ownership of this land to them. They have disappointed badly. Nothing ever happened.

    Just want you to remind that Ong VUA CHEYCHETTA II, one of Khmer Kings married princes Co Chin, my daughter. She had sympathy for the Viet people who were minorities migrated from China staring around 1823, so she asked her husband to allow the Viet using the land to work and live in this land that belongs to Khmer. I made mistake in my life that I really regretted. I returned the gratitude to them, the Khmer and the Khmer King, by leading our people to join force and fought with Khmer. We robbed the land from them, my Vietnamese Sons and Daughers. The Khmer, mainly Khmer Krom, have fought trying to get their land back till 1949. But before the French left Indochina, on June 4, 1949, they made an illegal transfer of the right to ownership of this land to us, the Viet.

    I am in HELL now in the custody of the King of death. The Death Council in HELL ordered me to write this appeal to all Vietnamse people. Ease my soul!! Give them their land back. DO NOT DISRESPECT their right as native of this land. Don’t execute them without fair trial. Respect their right to practice their religion, Buddhism. Don’t defrock monk with fair trial. Don’t take farmer’s land away from them. That is all they have to work and survive. Treat them like a human being. Please ease my soul!!!

    Signed

    GIA LONG
    Your former King

  9. My Linh is quite famous on various vietnamese food forums because she uses different screen aliases to tell people to visit her website. It has become like a sport for other Vietnamese to guess if the person promoting My Linh’s website is really her or not. Oddly enough, they treat her quite well despite all her wild claims and her Vietnamese hate.

  10. I think the recipe website is great, but I do agree that some of the recipes are the vietnamese recipes. Nothing is denied about that.

    Not sure what is the purpose of this person because she tries to promote a Khmer Krom recipe, but actually she takes Vietnamese’s recipes to claimed for Khmer Krom recipe. This makes Khmer Krom people look bad in general because whatever it is not of Khmer Krom should not be claimed.

    Based on what I read on that website, it has two faces of it. It is good if all the recipes are actually Khmer Krom recipes, but if she intends to make Khmer Krom look bad, then our Khmer should think about it. I personally used to eat Vietnamese food, and I have learned to cook the Vietnamese foods and I foundout that some recipes that I cooked actually existed on this website also.

    I leave a really judement for Cambodian people to have their own decision.

  11. Hey Vietnamese Folks!

    Stop hating! Mylinh Nakry has made an effort to bring cambodian recipes on a website so that it’s not lost for the next generations. This girl is sincere I can feel it! She has been raised as a Khmer Krom in the South of Vietnam( a part of Cambodia that you stole them!) and furthermore, the borders between each country of the world have been settled by men only not by God! For God, there is no border, no separation between any country. One planet, one people please!

  12. Mylinh, I salut you. I’m a Khmer person living in the UK. I enjoy reading your web site. The recipes are excellent. I cook most of your dishes at home. So, they must be Khmer. If those so-called real Vietnamese people had ever read history books, they would not have realised that they are living on our Khmer land, and would not have said those nasty words to you. The world knows about it – so do keep up with your good work. One day, I am sure your dream/our dream will come true …

  13. What’s the darn fuss? I’m just glad the recipes are there, our cuisines are so similar and tasty, isn’t it still a rose regardless of what you call it?

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