Amok Curry: National Dish Of Cambodia
Cambodian Amok curry is a hallmark of the country's cuisine. Khmer cuisine is diverse and has a long history, attracting people to explore. Many dishes are great combinations of protein, spicery, and herbs. Locals usually add in their food different types of sauces and coconut milk.
Overview Of Amok Curry
The origin of Cambodian Amok curry is unknown, yet some people believe it was a royal dish during the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century. Though there's no paper document stated, the recipe is passed down to generation by word of mouth.
In the past, many things were eradicated during the Khmer Rouge's terror regime in the 1970s, including culinary knowledge. After the peace was set again, people also brought back the Amok dish.
Despite its speculated royal origin, this dish has become common across the country. Locals like to cook it for some celebration, yet you can find it on street food vendors or restaurants.
Amok has similar versions in some neighboring countries, but Cambodians prefer to add a local herb called Lok Ngor, making it different from other siblings. Its main ingredient is fish, chicken, beef, tofu, and even snails. Fish Amok (Amok Trey) and Chicken Amok (Amok Moan) are the two most popular.
Locals use fresh coconut milk and kroeung, a traditional paste made from pounded spices, turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and shallots, to make the curry. In high-end restaurants, you'll see Amok is presented in banana leaves with steamed eggs as a mousse-like texture, while homestyle vendors usually serve it as a soupy version.
1. Fish Amok (Amok Trey)
Regarding Cambodian Amok curry, Fish Amok or Amok Trey is the most well-known. The freshness and types of fish are what determine its quality. Local people usually use freshwater fish such as catfish, snakehead, goby fish, or sometimes, perch, snapper, and salmon to cook.
The filets are marinated with spicy kroeung paste and steamed until they are tender and moist yet still firm. You'll feel creamy coconut tones together with a little bit of the tangy taste of lemon grass and turmeric. Though it does not bring a strong kick of spice like other neighboring dishes, the palate is quite exciting to try.
- Fish: 500gr
- Yellow Kroeung: 3 tbsp
- Dried red chilies: 2
- Fish sauce: 1 tbsp
- Shrimp paste: 1 tsp
- Palm sugar: 2 tsp
- Coconut cream: ½ cup
- Eggs: 2
- Nhor/noni leaves: ¼ cup
- Coconut milk/ cream: 1 tbsp
- Kaffir lime zest: 1 tsp
- Red chili: 1
How to cook
- Blend the Kroeung paste and chilies together.
- Mix the above mixture well with fish sauce, shrimp paste, palm sugar, coconut cream, eggs, and salt.
- Put the noni leaves on the bottom of the banana leaves basket.
- Fill almost to the top of the basket with the mixture. Flatten it with a spatula, and place a teaspoon of coconut cream and some pieces of kaffir lime leaves.
- Steam for 20-30 minutes until the filets are cooked through and firm. The fish should obtain a moisture structure, not dry.
- When it's almost done, add some more coconut cream and steam for a little more time.
- Take out the whole cooked banana leaves with amok, garnish with some kaffir lime leaves and pieces of chilies, and serve.
2. Chicken Amok (Amok Moan)
The second most popular Cambodian Amok curry is Chicken Amok or Amok Moan. This delicious specialty is made from chicken with a coconut milk base and a slight taste of curry spices.
People may relate the dish to Indian curry, yet Chicken Amok is much less spicy. Besides the coconut flavor, you also will feel the aroma of herbal leaves. It's usually served on a plate with a bowl of rice.
- Chopped lemongrass: 3 Tbsp
- Fresh, minced ginger: 1 Tbsp
- Chopped mint: 4 leaves
- Sliced garlic: 2 cloves
- Minced shallot: 1
- Ground turmeric: 1 tsp
- Thinly sliced red chili: 1
- Salt: ½ tsp
- Palm sugar: 1 Tbsp
- Cracked pepper: ¼ tsp
- Coconut milk: 1 Tbsp
- Water: 1 Tbsp
- Boneless, skinless, cubed chicken breast: 1 lb
- Coconut milk: 1 can 13.6oz
- Fish sauce: 1 Tbsp
- Lime zest: 2 tsp (for garnish)
How to cook
- Mix all the ingredients for Amok paste together and blend well for 2 minutes. Add a little water if the paste is too thick.
- Stir the fish sauce with coconut milk and set aside.
- Stir fry the chicken in a pan, then move it to a plate.
- Pour the paste into the same pan and boil it on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until you feel the fragrance.
- Add the coconut mixture made in step 1 and stir well.
- If the sauce is not thick enough, take out 2 tbsp of sauce and mix it with 2 tsp of cornstarch and place it back in the pan.
- Stir until you get the desired thickness, add the chicken inside, and simmer for around 10 minutes.
- Serve the dish on a plate and enjoy it with a bowl of rice.
Where To Eat
- Orussey market
- Address: Oknha Tep Phan St. (182), Phnom Penh
- Opening hours: 8:00 - 17:00
- Grand Steak restaurant (Formerly Anachak Steak Restaurant)
- Address: 170a Sivutha Boulevard, Siem Reap 17000
- Opening hours: 9:00- 23:00
- Price range: US$ 3-12
- Samaky Restaurant and Lounge
- Address: 9E0, Street 51, corner 278 in the west of Wat Langka, Phnom Penh
- Opening hours: 8:00 - 23:30
- Price range: US$ 5 - 15
If you want to try great Khmer delicacies such as Cambodian Amok curry, contact BestPrice Travel right now!