© 2014 Becky Kaffir lime and black pepper marinated beef salad

Cooking the Countries begins with Cambodia

Inspired by a family friend, I’ve decided to embark on a new culinary adventure – Cooking the Countries! Some friends have been recruited, a long list of countries (188!) has been compiled, Wikipedia bookmarked for research – we are ready to begin! 

The bf and I volunteered to start us off and we picked out Cambodia! Pretty safe ground, familiar flavours (similar to Thai) but different enough to make us do a bit of research. We discovered that Cambodians eat some interesting things – duck egg foetus is a particular delicacy (insert retching emoji and sad face), along with numerous beetles, insects and frogs and snakes on sticks. Deciding against any of the former, not sure the frogs from the local canal would have been appreciated, we went for a three courser:

Dancing away in the kitchen to some interesting Cambodian music we started with Kaffir lime and pepper marinated beef salad – this is so so good, a great starter as it’s light but so full of flavour. They do a similar salad at The Art Kitchen in Warwick which I love so when I came across this recipe, it was the one. The lovely staff in Aubrey Allen recommended sirloin pave as a cheaper alternative to sirloin, we found it to be really tender and tasty after a very quick flash fry in the pan. You can also eat it raw, the lime marinade cooks it a little bit anyway.

Fish amok with sticky rice – classic Cambodian fish curry, traditionally served in a banana leaf bowl. As you can see, the banana leaf bowl didn’t quite materialise as we didn’t have enough to make a sturdy receptacle but the thought was there. The recipe below is based on this one but when I trebled it up for six it seemed like there was a hell of a lot of salt and fish sauce going on so I altered the quantities to a more sensible level. It is traditionally a ‘set’ curry as you add beaten egg at the end and the dish is then steamed but this seemed quite a lot of faff and I wasn’t sure about the mousse-like texture (not a fan of eggs, strange I know) so I did a cheat’s version. Sustainable cod from Regency Fish in Leamington was delicious with the coconut sauce.

Sticky lime, orange and sesame bananas with ice cream – most of the Cambodian desserts we found contained rice or tapioca which we thought might be a bit heavy after having rice for the main so we decided on this simple, light pudding to finish off the meal.

Drinks were an issue as we couldn’t find any local suppliers who sold Angkor beer so we opted for Singha and Tiger instead along with some very un-Cambodian white wine!

All in all, it was a great start to the Cooking the Countries adventure with some delicious recipes that will definitely be repeated! Next up…..SOUTH KOREA! ooo what will this bring…


Cambodian Fish Amok
Serves 6
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For the curry paste
  1. 9 garlic cloves, chopped
  2. 3 large shallots, chopped
  3. 6 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, inner stalk only, chopped
  4. 1.5 inch piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
  5. 6 lime leaves, finely chopped
  6. 3 tsp tumeric powder
  7. 3 tsp light soft brown sugar
  8. 1.5 tsp salt
  9. 6 tsp chilli paste, I used Sambal Oelek
For the curry
  1. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1.5 tsp shrimp paste or anchovy paste
  3. 3 cups coconut milk plus a little cream from the top of the can to garnish if you wish
  4. 2 tbsp white sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 900g white fish, I used cod, skin removed
  7. 3 cups fresh spinach, cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
  10. Slithers of red pepper and lime leaves, to serve
To make the paste
  1. Either slave away over the mortar and pestle for an age or use a food processor, like me! Place the first 5 ingredients in the processor and whizz until a smooth paste forms, then add the remaining ingredients and process until fully incorporated
To make the curry
  1. Chop the fish into 1/2 inch chunks. Heat the oil in a large saute style pan over a medium-high heat. Add the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp paste, coconut milk, sugar and salt, whisking to combine. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the fish and spinach, gently folding them into the sauce. Let the curry simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. It is quite a saucy curry, simmer for longer at this stage if you want it to be thicker.
  2. Take the curry off the heat. Whisk the eggs, fish sauce and 2 tbsp of the curry sauce together in a small bowl then pour into the pan and gently fold into the curry. Now taste it, it may need some more salt/fish sauce/sugar.
  3. Serve the fish amok with thin slices of red pepper, lime leaves and a little coconut cream/milk if you wish.
Adapted from The City Kitchen
Adapted from The City Kitchen
Kitchen Crumbs http://kitchencrumbs.com/

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