Saturday, April 28, 2012
Khmer Cooking Lesson
I am back from my cooking lesson which was a lot of fun. Khmer cooking, which is a whole lot like Thai cooking (in my by no means expert opinion at least) is wonderfully light and tasty. And, to my surprise it's actually fairly simple and straight forward and I should be able to replicate it when I get home. Once I figure out what all the ingredients are. And track them down. Here's to living in a small town!
As much as I LOVE me some green mango salad (and I mean LOVE), my favourite thing to cook (and eat) tonight was the steamed fish I made.
Here is the recipe from the card I was given after my lesson.
Traditional Steamed A Mok Fish Stew
2 tablespoons cooking oil
120 g white fish fillet sliced into bite size pieces
5 tablespoons Khmer Curry Paste (see recipe bellow)
2 cups of young nhor leaves or spinach
8 tablespoons coconut milk
2 ego yolks
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon aromat
Banana leaves to make into cups
Combine all ingredients and spoon into banana leaf cups. Steam for 20 minutes.
Kroeung - Khmer Curry Paste
2 dried red chillies, soaked, drained and blended into a paste
3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp fresh turmeric, sliced
2 tbsp galangal, cut small
1 tbsp lemon grass stalk
zest of 1/4 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp kapi
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
3 cayenne peppers
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until they form a smooth paste.
A couple of my own notes about the above recipes;
The recipe for the curry paste will make about twice the amount you will need for the fish. You can refrigerate the other half and use it later - or you can fry it up, throw in some chicken, coconut milk, potato, carrot and onions and voila! - you have yourself a red curry. All you need is some rice and another dinner is done.
Galangal is very similar to ginger. You can substitute, it won't taste exactly the same, but I do not think it will make it taste "bad" either. You can find real galangal in south asian or indian grocery stores.
I have NO IDEA what kapi is, but it is a dried spice so if you ask around I am sure you can track it down.
You can use a blender, but tonight we used mortar and pestle. It takes a whole lot longer to make the paste by hand (hint - the smaller you cut things, the easier the mashing will go) but doing it by hand gives your curry a much nicer texture, and I am a real sucker for texture when it comes to food. So maybe do this on the weekend. Or get the husband to mash it while he's watching sports :)
Regarding the fish;
The recipe above is actually pretty much exactly what we used, except I do not remember putting in any oil. In fact, I am fairly certain we did not. When you are cutting the fish, do not cut it into cubes (which is what I have always done in the past) Instead, follow the lines in the meat (when you look at a piece of fish, you will know what I mean), and cut it into thin (no more then 2 cm) slices. Your steamed fish will not flake and fall apart like mine always does. Let the fish marinade for about 10-15 minutes before spooning it into the banana leaves.
About the banana leaf cups: (sorry, I wish I took a picture to show you what they mean by that)
We took 2 pieces of banana leaves, placed a plate on them and cut around the plate to make a circle. Place the 2 leaves together, but make sure that the patterns are opposite (one leaf runs up and down, while the other runs side to side) Pinch the leafs on four sides (one at a time), fold and pin them together to make a sort of a box shape. (Alright, not the best instructions but it's kind of difficult to explain - I will try to track down a tutorial somewhere)
Set aside some of the coconut milk before adding it to the mixture. When the fish was done cooking, we reduced a small amount of it (about 1/3 cup) and spooned it on top of the fish right before serving. The aroma of the reduced coconut milk.... yum!
Do let me know if you try this, I would love to know what you think! I think it's probably my new favourite dish :)