Friday, November 25, 2011

Cambodia, Seam Reap: Dinner Part 2: Khmer Amok and my morning in an orphanage

Today has been a good day.  I got to spend the morning working in a Catholic orphanage run by some lovely nuns.  The children there are awesome, aged from new born to five.  Unfortunately I don't have any good photo's as they nuns don't allow them, unless you donate large wads of cash or its your last day working there after a reasonable period, but I managed to get the photo underneath taken and smuggled out thanks to my partner in crime Johanna from Holland (who coincidently is working there).  The baby never cried the whole time, until we took this photo!! I swear!!! Oh, and obviously when I left because I make THAT much of an impression on people when I meet them for the first time! ;)

The orphanage actually was quite well run, I thought.  The first time I walked in half the children wanted to be picked up and carried for a bit which was nice.  I was consistently walking around lost with a child in each arm while Johanna did the real work and changed some nappies (diapers). But I got used to it and was loving it by the end.  Well, basically all I needed to do was play with children, so I fit in well.  By the time I had finished, I had only been pee'd on twice! Winning!!

Last night for dinner we ate at the night markets and had BBQ again.  One of the children who came to our dinner for homeless children (read here) asked us to buy him some fried rice, which we wouldn't because firstly, we don't want to encourage begging, and secondly, we had plenty of food which we offered him instead (stir fry veggies with rice and calamari).  The little blighter refused it, walked to another table to collect some cans and bottles, scored a cup of soft drink, then promptly came back to enjoy his rice and calamari and soda.  It was quite funny.  The are all very street smart.  I tried to pic a sly on my phone, but it didn't turn out too well.  Here is is anyway!

Urchin with his meal and drink!! 

OK, speaking of dinner, I owe you the main dish - Khmer Amok.  I think most everyone will love this! I was hesitant, because I am not the biggest fan of fish, but this recipe is awesome and Khmer Amok is one of Cambodia's signature dishes!  If you really don't like the idea with fish your can replace with chicken or beef! 

Main Course: Khmer Amok

Spice paste
So, you need to create a base paste for this recipe.  To create the paste you soak 2 dried chilli's in water until soft. Finely slice 2 sticks of lemongrass, a shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, on Kaffir Lime leaf, a finger of turmeric, 1 slice of galingale and the chilli's.  By finely I mean finely. My cook kept telling me to go forever! Whack it into a mortar and go to town on that bad boy with your pestle. Mix in 1 tablespoon of crushed peanuts, 4 dessert spoons of Chilli oil (though this may not be necessary. I was told it wasn't spicy and was purely for the colour when cooking), a dessert spoon of oil, half a teaspoon of shrimp paste and a pinch of salt.  Pestle away!! Pestle until a fine paste.

Khmer Amok
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add two dessert spoons of the spice paste and fry, adding one ladle (half a cup or so) of coconut cream. Add half a teaspoon of chicken salt/stock half a teaspoon of sugar, 3 squirts of fish sauce, half a teaspoon of palm sugar and mix.  Add the fish (or substitute). Add a ladle of water and simmer for 3 minutes adding coconut cream or water if need. Add half a sliced onion and a shallot.  Simmer for five minutes until soft.  Add two eggs and and hand flu off spinach or broccoli leaves and mix well.  Serve in Banana leave (if available) and garnish with coconut cream.

Serve with Rice

Khmer Amok

Please try it or leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!! :)

It's my birthday tomorrow, so we'll be having dessert!! :)


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