Cambodian cookery part two

Here’s the recipe for the second dish I made at my cooking course today. I hope I remember all the steps correctly! 🙂

Fish amok seems to be the signature dish in Khmer cooking. It’s a curry dish and not too distant from the flavors of Thai yellow curry.

Amok is distinguished from your typical Thai curry by a milder, slightly different flavor mix and the presence of the tasty, bitter “Amok” leaf – which I’d never heard of before today (although I kept wondering what that lovely dark green addition to the dish was every time we had it). It’s also quite easy to make. Having the right, fresh ingredients and a mortar and pestle help but are not mandatory. 🙂

Freshwater fish is the traditional meat used in the dish but we’ve seen it with all sorts of meats and in vegetarian form as well. The version I made today was with chicken and oyster mushroom but you can experiment with any combination of meat/veggies/mushroom/tofu as you iike. 🙂

Chicken Amok

Ingredients

For the curry paste:
One good-sized section of shallot
Two garlic cloves
One stalk finger root
Also known as Chinese Ginger, scientific name is Boesenbergia. Young ginger can be substituted if necessary
About four inches young turmeric root
Three stalks fresh lemongrass

For the curry:
Three amok leaves
It took some poking around on the web to find out more about this ingredient. It’s also knowns as Nhor, the scientific name is morindacitrifolia. It’s not something I’ve ever noticed for sale in the west, but of course I wouldn’t have known to look for it. Can be substituted with kale or Chinese broccoli.
Three oyster mushrooms
¼ a white onion
1 chicken breast
1 – 1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 – 2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ – ½ dried chilli, more if you like it hotter

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Amok leaf for sale in the market

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Also at the market – the freshwater fish typically used in Amok here in Cambodia

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Pre-prepared ingredients waiting for me 🙂

Directions

  • Start by thinly slicing the onion and and removing the stems from the oyster mushroom and ripping them into small chunks.
  • Slice the amok leaf into very thin strips. First fold in half and score along the middle to remove the thick stem, then roll the leaf for easier cutting.

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  • Slice the chicken breast into small to medium-sized chunks. Set all these ingredients aside.
  • Next all the ingredients for the curry paste have to be finely chopped. Remove the skin of the finger root and turmeric before chopping. Only use the bottom third of the lemongrass, slicing rings as fine as possible. Keep the ingredients separate as you chop them.

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Before

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After

  • Place the lemongrass, finger root and turmeric into the mortar and pound into a paste.
  • Add the shallot and garlic and continue to pound until a relatively fine paste is produced.

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Garlic and shallot added to the paste

  • Heat half the coconut milk on medium-high heat. Once it is fully boiling, add the onion and curry paste. Alow to cook, stirring as needed, until most of the liquid has boiled off.

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  • Add ¼ – ½ cup of water, followed by the chicken, mushroom and amok leaf.

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  • Once the curry has come to a boil again, add the fish sauce and sugar, mixing well.
  • Once the liquid has mostly boiled off again, add the other portion of coconut milk and thinly sliced dried chilli.
  • Taste and adjust as needed. Once you’re happy with the flavor, serve with steamed rice.

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