Ask any one who has visited Cambodia what their favourite local dish was and chances are high that they’ll say “Fish Amok” without having to think too hard. This dish is traditionally made with fish that is lightly spiced and cooked in coconut milk. The fish can be substituted with chicken or lots of vegetables for a veggie version.
- 150gms fresh snake fish (or salmon)
- 15-20gms sliced fresh lemongrass stalk
- 1 fresh kaffir lime leaf
- 1cm fresh galangal
- 1cm fresh root turmeric
- 2cms fresh finger root (Chinese ginger)
- 2 red sun dried paprika (substitute with 1-2tspn of paprika powder)
- 150ml fresh coconut milk
- 1/2tspn chicken stock powder/knorr/buillion
- 3cloves garlic
- 1tspn brown sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1tspn shrimp paste
- 1 kale leaf (or 4 big spinach leaves), sliced
- A big pinch of cornstarch
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and very thinly sliced
- Ceramic bowl (traditionally banana leaf is used to make a bowl but this isn’t easily available outside Asia)
- Rinse and soak the sun dried paprika to rehydrate for a minute.
- Thinly slice fresh lemongrass and set aside. Put in a mortar.
- Slice all these into small pieces – kaffir lime leaf, peeled galangal, peeled turmeric, finger root and peeled garlic. Add to the mortar.
- Add the soaked paprika and shrimp paste to the mortar. Pound for 10-15mins, regularly checking for consistency of the paste. Paste is ready when it’s absolutely smooth.
- Finely slice the fish into thin 2cm strips and add to a bowl. add chicken stock, salt, sugar, 1tbspn spice paste, 4tbspn coconut milk and mix till everything is combined.
- Strip off the stem from the kale leaf and tear into small pieces and add to the ceramic bowl.
- Add the marinated fish into the ceramic bowl (do not mix it with the leaves) and steam it for 15-20mins using a steamer or a water bath.
- Make coconut cream by adding 50ml of fresh coconut milk to a pot, add a pinch of corn starch and simmer for a minute till it thickens, while stirring constantly.
- Remove bowl from the steamer, garnish with 1tbspn of coconut cream, few thinly sliced kaffir leaves and sliced fresh red chilli. Serve with steamed rice!