But already I want to share with you a local dish!
I couldn’t say no to that! I now this might sound incredibly shallow or superficially food-nerdy but I only read one thing in my guide before arriving in Cambodia… I looked up the places for cooking courses. I didn’t do any research on temples, museums, historical places… I just looked for that one thing.
And one of the courses really appealed to me!
Le tigre de papier (a name like poetry) organises cooking course with a visit to the market.
The wonderful Sala BaÃ¯ is a school for disadvantaged young Cambodians; training them in all fields of the serving industry: housekeeping, front office, restaurant and cooking.
At the moment itâs only open for breakfast and lunch. They are hoping to open up for dinner too very soon.
One sunny day we treated ourselves to an enchanting lunch there. Young students served us with touching inexperience. We really felt like spoiled royal children.
Next day we pleaded at our reception desk for use of the hotel kitchen. âJeeess jeess no ploblem!â Super cool! We were overexcited!
We went to the market like a child goes to Disney land. Our basic Khmer helped us interact with the vendors.
Sadly, our first cooking night got messed up by a couple of unfortunate timed surgeries and coin flipping. But on our second night we are making fish amok, like we learned in our cooking course!
Originally it is a curry-ish fish stew dish steamed in banana leaves. But to make it more available for everyday use, we learned to make it on the hob.
The lemongrass paste they use for this dish is a Cambodian curry mix. Itâs really a great savour. It might be a bit of an effort to make it but you can store it in the fridge for several months. Just make a big bowl and use it instead of your normal curry paste. I guarantee you people will love it!
PS sorry for the dodgy pictures…
Adapted from la cuisine du Cambodge avec les apprentis de Sala BaÃ¯
By JoannÃ¨s RiviÃ¨re
400g firm white fish bones removed
6 leaves of broccoli thinly sliced
4 spoons of lemongrass paste
2 spoons of parika oil
1 clove of garlic
1 onion roughly chopped
500ml coconut milk
3 handfulls of mushrooms
Put a large pan on a high heat and add your paprika oil. Add the garlic and onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the lemongrasspaste, fry to bring out all the aromas. Then add coconutmilk, fish and mushrooms and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Put the leaves in and finish of with some sugar and fish sauce to taste.
Lemongrass paste or Khmer Curry paste
Adapted from Â« La cuisine du Cambodge avec les apprentis de Sala BaÃ¯ Â»
By JoannÃ¨s RiviÃ¨re
100g fresh galangal root
100 g curcuma (=turmeric)
100 g garlic
200 g lemongrass
200 g shallots
20 kaffir lime leaves
2 teaspoon of prahok (fish paste or shrimp paste)
Chop everything very finely and pound in a pestle and mortar. Or keep it simple and whizz it up in a mixer!