BootsnAll Travel Network

a taste of cambodia

check out pictures here (thanks kariena!)

after three fun-filled days in siem reap, i decided it was time to move on to see more of cambodia. i’d really enjoyed trying some of the traditional khmer (cambodian) dishes and i’d read about a cooking class in a town called battambang, which could be reached from siem reap via a six hour boat ride along the tonle sap river. the boat trip itself was rather uncomfortable, but i did make a new friend along the way.

believe it or not, my new friend kariena is from hawaii! i hadn’t seen many americans since laos, let alone someone from the same state, even the same island! kariena is originally from new mexico but has been living on oahu the past two years. i’m suprised i haven’t run into her in downtown! =) it’s always fun to travel alone, but sometimes it’s just as fun to meet up with new friends, so kareina and i both checked into a hotel in battambang and signed up for a cooking class at the smokin’ pot restaurant, then head out to explore the (very tiny!) town.

we arrived at the restaurant the following morning and met some of our other classmates for the day. the owner, vannak, was really cool and answered all of our questions, then took us on a tour of the market. the markets in cambodia are crazy! skinned frogs sitting in pools of blood (it seriously looked like a frog murder scene), fish jumping all over the ground then getting thrown back in their buckets, pig joints and sausages everywhere, along with various fresh fruits and vegetables. unlike the markets in thailand and laos, where you usually see stalls set up at the markets, everything was spread out over the ground! it was quite an experience.

battambang market

the first dish we made was a traditional khmer disk called fish amok (i saw similar ones in laos too) and there are two ways to make it – either steamed in banana leaves (so its a little more dry) or else done in a wok, which is how we did it… we had to make a curry paste first with all the similar ingredients to thai food (lemongrass, chilies, ginger, garlic, etc) then we squeezed shredded coconut in cheesecloth in a bowl of water to make fresh coconut milk for it… everything gets added to the wok and simmers for about 15 min. it was really delicious over rice…

the second dish we made was called lok lak and we made it with beef but it can be with chicken or pork, etc. as well. it was basically just stir fried meat (with soy and oyster sauce, salt pepper and a little sugar to coat, then tossed in the wok with chili sauce). served over a plate of salad garnishes – tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion, and with a yummy dipping sauce with lime juice, pepper, salt, and sugar with some water to thin it out. you add the dipping sauce to taste (its too strong for some people but i poured the whole thing over the meat, it was fabulous). we ate this one without rice, more like a salad, but the day before i’d ordered it at a restaurant and it came with rice. it can also be served with an egg fried on top. mmmmmm!

our final dish was a chicken soup, similar in flavor to thai tom yum soup but without the tomatoes and mushrooms and i think with fewer spices. it was a chicken soup, so we started by boiling the bones in water for a little bit, then taking them out and adding the lemongrass, ginger (galangcal), tumeric, and garlic cloves. we let these boil for a little while, then we added some fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and some chilies and chopped chinese mint (the long one that tastes like cilantro, i’ve also heard it called “culantro”) in a chiffonade. then boneless chicken pieces and some lime juice, along with the other chinese mint to garnish. it was so simple, yet soooo delicious… im going to make that as my “chicken soup” when i’m sick from now on…

am i doing this right?

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2 responses to “a taste of cambodia”

  1. kim says:

    wow! you’re just becoming the lil’ chef! =) i’ll be going to you from now on for cooking tips…

  2. heidz says:

    wow Malia…these pictures are soooooooooooo cool! I feel like we are there wtih you…

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