As I shared in my post about West African Mafe, I was inspired by The Cooking Channel’s show, Taste in Translation. Every Friday, Aarti Sequeira takes viewers on a culinary destination abroad; I decided to try a few of these creations for myself, which slowly turned into recipe after recipe from around the world. I found my kitchen overflowing with flavors and aromas I just had to share! Here is another one of my favorite dishes from the other side of the globe; this one from Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Fish Amok
Fish amok is the national dish of Cambodia. As Asia Society describes, the delicacy, “Is a sublime fish curry custard that is steamed in banana leaves. It’s elegant, moist and flavorful.” How do you make it? Here’s the recipe from The Cooking Channel followed by two special tips from the Dinner Diva:
- 5 kaffir lime leaves, ribs removed, thinly sliced
- 3 California dried red chilies, soaked in water until soft, drained, seeds discarded, chopped
- 3 slices galangal, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 slices kacheay (also known as lesser ginger or lesser rhizome), peeled and chopped
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 small pieces fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, plus another 1/2 cup for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon chili paste
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound boneless skinless meaty white fish, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 8 banana leaves
- 4 handfuls baby spinach leaves, or 4 young nyo leaves
- 4 fresh red chilies, cut lengthwise several times from the tip to 1/4 inch from the stem end
- Steamed white jasmine rice, for serving
Special equipment: Bamboo toothpicks
For the kreung paste: Pound together the lime leaves, red chilies, galangal, garlic, kacheay, shallots, lemongrass and turmeric, a few ingredients at a time, using a mortar and pestle until a fine paste forms.
For the fish amok: Mix together the kreung paste with the coconut milk, chili paste, fish sauce, sugar, shrimp paste, salt and egg in a large bowl. Add the fish and combine well with the kreung paste marinade. Set aside and allow the marinade to infuse the fish, about 15 minutes.
Set up a steamer. Make the banana leaf (konthoang) bowls by placing 2 banana leaves on top of each other and folding into little rectangular bowls with the tapered sides folded up and held together with bamboo toothpicks. Make 4 konthoangs total. Make a bed of spinach leaves in the bottom of each konthoang. Divide the marinated fish between the bowls and place on top of the spinach beds. Spoon 2 tablespoons of coconut milk over each serving of fish and top off with a fresh red chile. Place the filled konthoangs (amoks) in the steamer and steam until the fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Enjoy with steamed white jasmine rice!
Note: Amok can also be made with boneless, skinless slices of chicken or peeled and deveined large shrimp.
DINNER DIVA TIPS
- When you try this recipe, look for fresh banana leaves at your local Mexican market, like Fresco in San Jose. They can also be purchased frozen.
- Bamboo steamers work the best; the most affordable price can be found at a local Asian Market rather than a high-end cooking store.
Download the full recipe here.
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.