Thursday, November 24, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Dinner, Part One: Fresh Spring Rolls

Hello All!
The last two days have been great! I am really settling in to Jimmy's school and I start at another school tomorrow!  So I will be working at Jimmy's school in the evening from 5:00pm til 7:00/8:00pm and another school during the day!  So excited!  Last night half the class gave me hugs as they left! They are SO CUTE!!!  They finish each class with the song "If you're happy and you know it"and a song that goes like "I love you, you love me, were a happy family" I recognise it but I don't know the name!  Anyway, I think Jimmy's school is going to set up a website so I will link you to it when its established!!

After my last blog I got to my class on time, JUST! After teaching children the "ch" sound the night before last I headed to a farewell dinner at a local italian restaurant.  We then went out for a drink and found the local hooker bar which was DISGUSTING!!  It was full of male tourists, mainly old and/or fat guys with local young attractive girls.  It was just gross because you look at the 'couples' and got visuals and I was all like  "EEwwwwwwwwwww".  I tell you what though, if you need a bit of an self esteem boost its a good spot to stop by.  I felt much better about myself and my appearance!  Moreso than when I went to Telethon live!!  Our group were there for 15 seconds, more than enough time, then left and went to X Bar which was much better.  X Bar is opposite the night food stalls and is a roof top venue which offers a nice view over the central pub district of Siem Reap.  Of course, I don't think there are any buildings in down town Siem Reap that are taller than 3 or four stories so you wouldn't call it a sweeping view, but it is nice none the less! :) Drinks are cheap, gin and tonics are $1.50, beers 50c.

The last two mornings I have been woken by one of my neighbours blasting Cambodian music from around 6:00am which has been driving me insane.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cultural respect and cultural differences, but I'm also all for not waking up before dark unless I have to!!  Seriously, its starts pre dawn and goes until after dinner and the speaker is right outside my window... We found out it was for a wedding which kinda makes me go "Awwwwww", but then I hear the music which sounds like chain-smoking parrots trying to play the bagpipes and I get over that pretty 'awwww' feeling pretty quickly! Today is the last day though, so no more pre dawn wake up music, I hope!

Anyway, onto positive things!! I had my cooking class yesterday and I learned how to make 3 local dishes:
  1. Starter: Fresh Spring Rolls
  2. Main: Khmer Amok
  3. Dessert: Banana dessert
So today, I'm going to talk through the fresh spring roll recipe, tomorrow the Khmer amok, and on Saturday the banana dessert!

Personally, I love fresh spring rolls! I can be in the mood for deep fried spring rolls occasionally but nine times out of ten I will always go the fresh ones.  The good news for vegetarians is that they do taste great with no meat, so you could probably serve them to us meat eaters without any grumbling!! I'm not sure of the whole gluten free thing, but I think they are that too - for all the hippies!  ;)  I'm kidding!! The only reason I put this in is because I know my mother, who loves and adores me, will now make them for my gluten-free Grandmother while telling her all about how amazing and clever I am!!


Dipping Sauce
Making the dipping sauce its actually really easy. Put three ladles (about 2-3 cups) of water into a small sauce pan and boil.  Add two dessert spoons of fish sauce, 3 teaspoons of palm sugar, 1 teaspoon of white sugar, half a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of chicken salt. Simmer for two minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Finely chop 1 clove of garlic, 1 chilli, and 1 shallot with the juice of two limes and add to the sauce. Put in a dipping bowl and cover in crushed peanuts.

Fresh Spring Rolls
Finely slice half an onion, 100g of baby prawns/shrimp, 200 g of minced of finely chopped pork.  Heat 3 dessert spoons of oil and add one glove of crushed garlic.  Brown the garlic and add the pork.  Add a pinch of black pepper, a pinch of chicken salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 splashes (squirts from the bottle) of fish sauce and cook for two minutes. And the shrimp and onion and cook for roughly three minutes, add a squirt of oyster sauce at the end. Allow to cool for a bit (not too long though, I don't think its too important so just leave off the heat until you start making the rolls).

Now you just roll them up in rice paper. You just need to buy rice paper in those packets and whack the rice paper in water for 15 secs or so so it isn't hard anymore. Put the wet rice paper on a wet surface (e.g. a wooden chopping board) and try your luck.  We added the ingredients in this order. Shredded carrot, then bean sprouts, basil, lettuce, cucumber, then the pork and prawn mix.  Now practice your rolling skills. I found this a little tricky at first. Its just important to remember to roll firmly and fold the sides in at the last roll.

Here are mine.  The first one was my first attempt and is looking a bit sad because it split a bit, but the others are perfect! :)

So, you should try your hand at them and let me know what you think!! :)   Tomorrow I will run through Khmer Amok.  It's a fish dish and let me just say, as a person who usually doesn't order fish, it's bloody good!!

Until tomorrow!

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