Although Cambodian (or Khmer) cuisine is not as world renowned as neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand, its medley of fresh flavours is certainly not to be overlooked while exploring Southeast Asia. And topping the country’s list of culinary offerings is national dish known as amok, a favourite among both the locals as well as travellers.
The Flavours of Amok
Hosting both the world’s 12th longest river, the Mekong, in addition to Southeast Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle, it’s no surprise that many Khmer dishes are centered around rice and freshwater fish.
Amok is no exception – this deliciously fragrant dish features a slightly sweet and spicy curry paste (known as kroeung) made from local lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric, galangal and garlic served in a banana leaf bowl and optionally garnished with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and red chilli. Steamed rice is served on the side, and while the recipe traditionally calls for white-meat fish, the main protein can be substituted with beef, pork, chicken, prawns or tofu.
Where to Try Amok
Unfortunately, Cambodian restaurants are a rare find around the world, even in the larger metropolitan cities. And if one is lucky enough to discover Amok on the menu, it is often in an establishment which serves a variety of Southeast Asian cuisines rather than specializing in just Khmer fare.
The culinary team aboard Heritage Line’s luxurious lower Mekong River cruises (Vietnam & Cambodia) are proud to share their national dish with our passengers. And guests can also learn their recipes in our complimentary on-board culinary classes!
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at preparing Amok at home with our very own recipe!
Fish Amok Recipe (2 servings)
Curry paste (kroeung)
- 2 lemongrass stalks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1.5 inch/4 cm piece of galangal, peeled and chopped (can substitute ginger)
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, chopped (can substitute zest of one lime)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients in food processor, or pound in mortal and pestle until fine paste.
- 0.5 kaffir lime leaf, sliced thinly (can substitute coriander)
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
- 2 red chillies, sliced into thin piece bottom to top (optional)
- 300g white fish, cut into 1 in/2.5 cm cubes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 150 ml/5 oz. coconut milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups steamed white rice (1 cup uncooked)
1. Add oil to wok or pan and heat. Add curry paste (see above recipe), coconut milk and eggs. Stir.
2. Add fish and cook on medium for 5 minutes.
3. Serve in small bowl with rice on the side. Garnish with kaffir leaf, coconut milk and red chilli. Bon appétit!