No trip to Cambodia is complete until you try their national dish – Fish Amok. The exact presentation and texture of the complex delicacy vary across Cambodian regions, but key ingredients such as marinated fish, curry paste and aromatic spices remain present in all Fish Amok recipes.
Coming across the classic Fish Amok outside of Cambodia is extremely rare. The underrated exotic Cambodian cuisine was nearly exterminated altogether with countless of innocent victims under the Khmer Rouge era, but has since then made a comeback in its place of origin in the recent decades.
There are virtually no Cambodian restaurants in Singapore and eating the classic Fish Amok was only made possible on a recent trip to Cambodia; this delightful local Khmer dish has completed our experience to Cambodia.
Traditionally, a plethora of herbs are painstakingly pounded by hand to form a smooth herbal curry paste. Fortunately, the advancement and availability of technology has eased this tedious job for most Cambodian chefs. Today, the kroeung paste can be made easily by grinding chilli paste, chopped galangal, garlic cloves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalks, shallot bulbs and tumeric powder altogether with the aid of a food processor.
However, there are many street vendors and rural families that still stick to the conventional method of pounding herbs due to their financial inability to afford electrical equipments.
Anyway, the resulting curry paste is then used to cook bite-size portion of catfishes (or other types of firm white fishes) alongside coconut milk and shrimp paste. The end result is a flavourful thickened curry fish mixture.
Portions of the final paste is then placed into bamboo leaf squares and topped with thick coconut cream, julienne red peppers and slices of thin kaffir lime leaves. Bowls of plain white rice are usually served on the side with the Fish Amok.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.