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!
One of the dishes I learned in my Khmer cooking class was Beef Lok Lak. This is a Cambodian twist on a Vietnamese dish consisting of cubes of marinated and sautéed beef served on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, then drizzled with a delicious sauce and served with rice and a fried egg sunny side up. Beef can be substituted with chicken. When I next have access to a kitchen I will try making a veggie version with mushrooms and tofu.
[recipes Serves=1 Time=”30 mins” Difficulty=Easy]
- 100gms beef
- 4-5tspn vegetable oil (or sunflower oil)
- 1tspn chicken stock powder/knorr/buillion
- 1/2tspn soft palm sugar or jaggery
- 1/2tspn brown sugar
- 1/4tspn of salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1tspn light soy sauce
- 1tspn oyster sauce
- 1-2tspn mild hot chilli sauce
- 2tspn tomato sauce (use less sugar if using ketchup)
- 1tspn black pepper powder
- 2 leaves of lettuce
- 3 whole slices of a tomato
- 2 onion rings, halved
- 1 lime
- handful of coriander leaves
- Steamed rice
- Dice beef into 1.5cms pieces and put in bowl. Add 2tspn of oil, 1/2tspn chicken stock powder, palm sugar, soy sauce, a pinch of salt, oyster sauce, chilli sauce, tomato sauce and 1/4tspn of black pepper powder. Stir and beat with a spoon for a couple of minutes and then put aside.
- Squash and peel the garlic, mince finely and set aside.
- Lay the lettuce leaves on a plate, arrange the onion slices on top and then add tomato slices on stop of the onion. Add steamed ride to the plate.
- Dip Sauce: Squeeze lime in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, 1/2tspn of brown sugar, 1/2tspn of chick stock powder, 1/2tspn of black pepper powder. Stir with a spoon. Set aside.
- Add remaining oil to a frying pan and turn the heat to high. Saute garlic for 10-15 seconds before oil becomes too hot. When garlic turns golden, pour marinated beef in the pan and stir fry until the beef is cooked and the sauce begins to thicken. Add this beef on top of the salad. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- In the same pan, add the dip sauce and stir for a minute or so till it thickens slightly. Pour into a small bowl, set it next to the beef.
- Fry an egg, sunny side up and then put on the plate.
- That’s it. dish is assembled and ready to eat!
It’s safe to assume that everyone loves spring rolls. Be it fresh or fried, veggie or meat, Vietnamese or Cambodian or Thai style, these appetizers are universally loved. This recipe is Cambodian style meaning that unlike the thin and crispy rice paper used by the Vietnamese to wrap the rolls, the Cambodians mostly use wheat paper so the rolls, when fried, are more golden and are crispier. I personally prefer the rice paper version but feel free to use whatever you fancy.
[recipes Serving=2 Time=”30mins” Difficulty=”Easy”]
- 100gms taro (or white potato or sweet potato)
- 50gms chicken (or pork or mushrooms)
- 20gms carrot
- 2-3stalks spring onion
- 1/2tspn chicken stock/knorr/buillion
- 1tspn soft brown sugar
- 1/2tspn black pepper powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1ltr vegetable oil (or sunflower oil) for frying
- 5-10sheets of rice paper or wheat paper
- Peel taro and carrot. Grate finely, add to a bowl, mix and set aside.
- Finely slice spring onions, add to the bowl (do not mix).
- Finely slice the chicken and mince with the knife until it resembles a paste. Add to the bowl without mixing.
- Add chicken stock, salt, sugar and black pepper to the bowl. Squeeze and mix for a couple of mins until ingredients are combined.
- Take one sheet of wrapping paper and set it on a smooth chopping board. Spoon 1tbspn of filling at the edge of the wrapping paper. Spread the mixture to resemble a tube about 6cms long and begin rolling the paper. when rolled half way, fold the sides in and continue rolling the paper. Repeat until all the filling is used up.
- Heat oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Add the spring rolls one at a time. Fry for a few minutes on one side till golden, turn over and repeat. Repeat this step once more till spring rolls are golden brown on both sides.
- Remove from pan and drain on a kitchen towel.
- Serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce!