Cambodia Cooking School, Part II

Last week, I gave the scoop on my authentic Cambodian cooking class during my travels to Phnom Penh in early January. While our crunchy fried spring rolls were a fabulous starter, the four hour class revolved around the Cambodian curry, called amok. Each ingredient is essential, from the lemongrass and chili to shallot and kaffir lime zest.  Attention to detail places Cambodian cuisine in a high level of difficulty in preparation and execution.

The nitty-gritty of this Cambodian delicacy is entitled kroeung, which is combined with chicken and a coconut mixture.  The mix is carefully held in a banana leaf cup, which we clumsily folded and fastened with toothpicks. The result is delightful -- sweet and slightly spicy -- and riddles well with a spoonful of steamed white rice.
chicken amok

Makes 1 serving
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon galangal
2 teaspoon lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 large piece of kaffir lime zet
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanuts
1 chicken breast sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon palm sugar (or honey)
1/2 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 pieces of banana leaf
2 toothpicks, halved
1. Combine all kroeung ingredients into a food processor and blend to a thick paste. A mortal and pestle may be used, if desired. Stir into a small bowl of coconut milk. Add egg, fish sauce and sliced chicken.
2. Make a banana leaf cup by placing two 25-cm diameter circle pieces together and tucking a fold, secured by half of a toothpick. Repeat until all four sides of the cup are symmetrical and held together.
3. Fill banana cup with amok mixture. Steam for 25 minutes, until mixture is solid but moist.
adapted by frizz, cambodian cooking school