Thai Bamboo Soup Recipe (Keng No Mai)

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Top-down view of Thai bamboo soup with vegetables in a blue and white bowl

This Thai bamboo soup recipe is my Thai grandmother pride, she often makes keng no mai for breakfast or lunch. If you love traditional Thai food, this dish is perfect for you.

A spoonful of bamboo shoot and soup over a bowl with more bamboo soup.
Taste the richness of Isan cuisine with every spoonful of this delicious Thai soup.

What is keng no mai

Keng no mai is a traditional Thai soup featuring fresh bamboo shoots, often enjoyed for breakfast or lunch. This authentic Thai dish originated in Isan, it’s aromatic and flavorful, infused with many herbs and spices.

More about Thai bamboo soup

Bamboo soup is a taste of Northeastern Thai tradition, being served up at nearly every family gathering or special occasion. Prepared with local ingredients, this soup takes on different variations as you travel to different cities and even small rural towns.

2 Portions of Thai bamboo soup served in bowls, garnished with vegetables. Scattered around it are fresh chilies, glutinous rice, and more.

For those looking for a taste of traditional Thai food, keng no mai offers flavors of authentic Isan cuisine.

Be warned, Isan food is incredibly flavorful. This recipe is not for those who are new to the world of Thai flavors.

Since soup is an affordable and nutritious meal, many Isan people enjoy soup for breakfast.

Top-down view of a portion of keng no mai with sticky rice.

This recipe for Thai bamboo soup has the exact ingredients and instructions my grandmother likes to use. Rest assured, it doesn’t get more authentic than this!

5 reasons to try this recipe

  • This recipe is totally do-able for every home cook. This soup is easy-to-make, and you can enjoy the leftovers for many days after.
  • This soup is made with wholesome ingredients. Bamboo is healthy and nutritious.
  • It’s my grandma’s recipe. This bamboo soup is the real deal! It’s served up for monks during festivities and served at our family dinners.
  • It screams authentic. You get to enjoy a taste of authentic Thai food in the comfort of your kitchen.
  • It’s so flavorful. This is no bland soup – I bet it’s the most flavorful soup you’ve ever tried. Keng no mai is a blend of earthy, sweet, umami, spicy, and zesty.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Bird's eye view of recipe ingredients; fermented fish sauce, salt, flavor seasoning, MSG, glutinous rice, bamboo shoots, sponge groud, yanang, water, and rice paddy herb.
  • Fresh bamboo – If you don’t have access to fresh bamboo, you can opt for canned bamboo shoots.
  • Glutinous rice – Brings a starchy thickness to the soup.
  • Fermented fish sauce – A key ingredient in Isan cuisine with a deep umami richness. Made from fish or krill that has been coated in salt and fermented for months or longer.
  • RosDee flavor seasoning – Often used to add a boost of flavor to soups, stir-fries, and other food.
  • MSG – A flavor enhancer commonly used in Thai restaurants.
  • Salt
  • Rice paddy herb – A fresh and citrusy herb.
  • Mushrooms – I used enoki mushrooms, but you can use any Asian mushroom that can be cooked and eaten.
  • Yanang – This Thai herb adds color and a slightly bitter flavor.
  • Mabuap – Adds a tangy flavor and a refreshing kick to each sip of soup.
  • Chilies – Chilies bring the heat. Feel free to adjust to your spice level.
  • Water – The base of this vegetarian bamboo soup, binding all the ingredients together.

Ingredients for blanching the bamboo

Before making the bamboo soup, we will cook the bamboo shoots with sugar to remove their natural bitterness. If you’re using canned bamboo shoots, you can skip this, instead you can simply wash them.

Bamboo shoots, white sugar, and a bowl of water on a bamboo serving tray.
  • Fresh bamboo shoots
  • White sugar
  • Water

Cooking instructions

  1. Blanch fresh bamboo shoots

    Instructions for blanching fresh bamboo shoots.

    Heat a pot or large pan with water over medium heat. Add fresh bamboo shoots and white sugar, let boil for 20 minutes. Then drain water, leaving the bamboo shoots in the pot.

    (If you’re using canned bamboo shoots, you can skip this, instead simply wash them)

  2. Mix glutinous rice, yanang, and water

    Instructions for mixing yanang with glutinous rice and water in a blender.

    In a blender, mix glutinous rice, yanang, and water into a fine substance.

  3. Crush chilies

    Close-up of crushed chilies in a mortar.

    Use a mortar and pestle to pound the chilies.

  4. Cook bamboo soup

    Place the pot with bamboo shoots over medium heat, add the mixture of step 2 and crushed chilies. When boiling, add all sauces and seasonings while continuously stirring (fermented fish sauce, MSG, salt, flavor seasoning).

    It’s important to keep stirring at all times to prevent the glutinous rice from sticking to the pot, which will cause it to burn.

  5. Add vegetables

    Instructional images of vegetables being added to bamboo soup in a pot.

    When the soup comes back to a boil, add sponge gourd, letting the soup boil for 2 minutes. Then add mushrooms, cook for another minute and add the rice paddy herbs. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Leftover bamboo? Try this irresistible red curry recipe with bamboo shoots: gaeng daeng recipe.

Kitchen tools

How to serve

Ladle the soup into individual bowls or place the soup pot onto the table, providing a bowl for each.

Optional sides

Sliced chilies: Place a small bowl of sliced chilies onto the table for those who like a spicy soup.

Sticky rice: My grandmother enjoys Thai soup with sticky rice. In fact, she eats everything with sticky rice, even fruits!

How to store bamboo soup

Let the leftover soup cool to room temperature. Transfer into airtight containers, glass containers are best. Store the soup in the refrigerator and consume within the next 3–4 days.

Freezing instructions: Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or use the microwave.

Reheating instructions: Reheat in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Bamboo plus the herbs and spices are naturally gluten-free. As for the flavoring ingredients like seasoning powder and fermented fish sauce, you’ll have to get a gluten-free version.

Is this recipe vegetarian?

This recipe includes fermented fish sauce, which is made of fermented fish. It’s not vegan, but can be enjoyed by vegetarians who don’t mind consuming fish sauce. Alternatively, you can sub the fish sauce with a vegetarian fish sauce alternative.

More Thai soup recipes you’ll love

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5 from 1 vote

Thai Bamboo Soup Recipe (Keng No Mai)

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 1 hr
Servings: 4 Calories: 56

Description

This is my grandmother's traditional recipe for Thai bamboo soup.

Ingredients

For making the bamboo soup

For blanching the bamboo

Instructions

Blanch fresh bamboo shoots

  1. Heat a pot or large pan with water over medium heat. Add fresh bamboo shoots and white sugar, let boil for 20 minutes. Then drain water, leaving the bamboo shoots in the pot.

    (If you're using canned bamboo shoots, you can skip this, instead simply wash them)

Make the soup

  1. In a blender, mix glutinous rice, yanang, and water into a fine substance.

  2. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the chilies.

  3. Place the pot with bamboo shoots over medium heat, add the mixture of step 2 and crushed chilies. When boiling, add all sauces and seasonings while continuously stirring (fermented fish sauce, MSG, salt, flavor seasoning).

    It's important to keep stirring at all times to prevent the glutinous rice from sticking to the pot, which will cause it to burn.

  4. When the soup comes back to a boil, add sponge gourd, letting the soup boil for 2 minutes. Then add mushrooms, cook for another minute and add the rice paddy herbs. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4


Amount Per Serving
Calories 56kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.25g1%
Total Carbohydrate 12.25g5%
Protein 2.5g5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • I used enoki mushrooms, but you can use any Asian mushroom that can be cooked and eaten.
  • Be warned, Isan food is incredibly flavorful. This recipe is not for those who are new to the world of Thai flavors.
Keywords: Thai bamboo soup, Thai bamboo soup recipe, keng no mai

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About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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