Archive for the ‘Grill & Bake’ Category

Chinese Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling

This was my very first time making this Chinese Style Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling known in Khmer as Sach Jrook Kwai សាច់ជ្រូកខ្វៃ. I spent a bit of time studying the steps, variations and recipes available online and then finally adapt it to my liking. Finding the ingredients and making it was not hard at all but I was really anxious and nervous about the outcome. Will it turn out good or will it be a nightmare? While making I thought to myself, if the results are positive then this is what I plan to contribute for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday feast. :)

As you can see from the picture it was a major S-U-C-C-E-S-S (IMHO – In my humble opinion)! 😀 The pork was juicy, nice and tender inside while the skin above was so crispy and crunchy. It was scrumptious! I wonder, why do they charge so much at the Chinese deli when it so easy to make? Maybe to cover the cost of electricity bill? LOL I don’t think I will ever purchase roasted pork at the deli again.

You might be concern about the fat content in this meat. I was too, however as good as it was I did not devour the entire 2½ lbs of meat alone nor during one sitting. A couple of slices is good enough for me along with steamed rice. The left over will be used to make other dishes like stir-fry, noodle soups, or lettuce wraps. The key in moderation right? 😛 I say this but sometime it’s so tempting. LOL

2½ lbs pork belly (or pork belly side)
½ tablespoon sea salt (coarse salt)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon table salt
½ tablespoon sugar
2 pieces red bean curd
½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Clean pork belly and pat dry with a kitchen or paper towel.

Score the bottom (meaty) side with a sharp knife and make an X about ½ inch apart. This is so that the marinade gets through and in between the meat. It also helps the pork belly from curling when it is roasting.

Make the marinade and rub it on the bottom (meaty side) making sure to get in between the slits that was previous scored.

Flip it to the other side and rub the skin (part only) with sea salt. Allow to marinade (uncover) for at least 1 hour but best overnight. The air in the fridge will help keep the skin dry.

Bring meat to room temperature prior to roasting. Preheat your oven to 400-450F. Set the pork on a rack/roast pan and roast with the skin side up. Make sure you have a drip pan to catch the fat when it drips. Cook for about 20-25 minutes.

Remove meat from the oven carefully. Use a paper towel to blot off any visible oil that rise to the top of the skin. Then use a fork or sharp rod to prick the skin. The more holes you make the better. This will help release the fat making it dry and crispy with crackling.

Use a brush and apply rice vinegar to the skin. Return it back to the oven and continue to cook on broil setting (the top heat) for another 20 minutes or so. The skin will start to make these crackling noise and then it will turn black (charred). This is a sign that the pork has released it’s fat and there little liquid left inside.

Turn the oven off and remove your pork belly carefully. If it’s too hot to handle you can allow it to rest in the oven for awhile (while the heat is turned off) until it is safe to remove with gloves.

Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes. Then with a steak knife scrape off the blacken part. You should have a delicious roasted pork belly that is juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.

There’s so many things you can do with this roasted pork belly. Serve it with steamed rice, make fried rice, noodle soup, or add it to stir fry dishes. Enjoy!

Clay Pot Chicken Rice

I haven’t been in the kitchen much lately because I was busy with my mini home makeover. That project has not completed yet and will take some time. While working on the project I settle with quick fix meal like rice with fried eggs, my Mother’s homemade salty fish and her Cambodian sausage. Yesterday after making my Pickled Mustard Green Soup I was anxious to try something new. Browsed online and (again) saw all these eye catching, mouth-watering images of clay pot rice being cooked with so many variations. The Chinese does it one way, the Malaysian does it another and then there’s the Vietnamese and Thai style although I have not encounter the Cambodian version. It was a bit overwhelming. LOL I like them all. 😀 Instead of going with one particular recipe I’ve decided to go with the concept: cook rice, cook topping, combine the two and continue to cook in clay pot in an oven. Sound simple enough right? Don’t get discourage with the lengthy ingredients because most are marinade that can be prepared well in advance (I did it the night before).

Because I am not proficient in cooking rice on a stove top I rely on my rice cooker to do the job. I then transfer it to my clay pot (that I hand carried all the way from Cambodia during my one and only visit back in summer 2006). Some clay pot doesn’t require pre-soaking but mine (as pictured) is a traditional one that do require pre-soaking for about 15 minutes to prevent it from cracking when it goes into the oven at high heat.

OMG! I just wanted to share with you how much I enjoyed the flavor of my​ Bai Mon Chhnang Dey បាយម៉ាន់ឆ្នាំងដី (Clay Pot Chicken Rice). It’s was so delicious! The best part was the bai kdang បាយក្តាំង (crispy rice) at the bottom of the pot (you can achieve this on a stove-top too, just put cook it on med-low heat and remove promptly otherwise you will be left with burnt rice instead).

Clay Pot Chicken Rice
(Bai Mon Chhnang Dey) បាយម៉ាន់ឆ្នាំងដី

2 cups rice (uncooked)
5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm/hot water til soften then sliced
1 Chinese sausage, sliced diagonally
2 cloves garlic, minced and fried
½ teaspoon chicken broth powder mix
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
2 skinless chicken thighs (about ½ lb), cut into bite size pieces
1 green onion, julienne for garnish

Marinade for chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce (sweet)
½ teaspoon tapioca flour (or corn flour)

Marinade the chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Pre-soak your clay pot in cold water for about 15 minutes prior to use to prevent it from cracking when it goes into the hot oven. The heat will warm the clay pot gradually releasing the steam to further cook the inside.

Preheat your oven to about 400 degrees F.

Cook your rice as you would normally do in a rice cooker and add chicken broth powder mix along with fried garlic. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock instead of water.

While the rice is cooking heat a pan and cook the marinaded chicken pieces. It was start of liquid-y but thickens up to an almost dry consistency. When chicken pieces are cooked add slice shitake mushrooms and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.

Assuming you are using a rice cooker, the light switch should now change to the warm setting. Wipe your clay pot dry with a kitchen towel and grease the bottom with some sesame oil. This step is optional but I wanted that nice crispy rice on the bottom without having it actually stick to the bottom.

Transfer the rice from the rice cooker to the clay pot. Arrange slice Chinese sausage evenly on top. Then add the stir-fry chicken pieces with mushrooms. Put the lid on and bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes or so.

Serve garnish with some julienne green onions and for color I also added some red jalapeños.

Roasted Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork

Roasted Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork (Pahok Kop) ប្រហុកកប់ is a classic Cambodian dish.

It has been 6 years since I started cooking on my own but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve craved classic Cambodian dish such as this one and Steamed Fish Eggs with Ground Pork (Pa’ork Pong Trey) ផ្អកពងត្រី. My parent enjoy fishing during their past time. When a nice big stripe bass is caught she would clean and preserve the fish eggs to make Steam Fish Eggs with Ground Pork, like a custard. Fresh and cooked vegetables are then dipped into the custard. I will have to check with my Mother if she has any preserved fish eggs this season. Until then I will try to calm my cravings with this delicious Roasted​ Pickle-Fish with Ground Pork. The authentic version use Krosang as the sour agent. I don’t have that so I substitute it with tamarind base powder. If you don’t have holy basil, you can use Thai Basil instead. Dip it with your favorite fresh or cooked vegetables. My tomatoes and Japanese eggplants are loaded in the garden so this was another great opportunity for me to enjoy them.

10 banana leaves
½ ground pork
½ lb oyster mushrooms
5 tablespoons lemongrass paste (kroeung)
1 tablespoon ground pahok
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon tamarind base
a handful of holy basil leaves
5 toothpicks (to hold parcels)
assorted fresh vegetables to serve

Prepare banana leaves by washing each of them in hot water. This will make it stronger. Use a paper towel or kitchen towel to wipe it clean. Set aside.

Wash mushrooms and squeeze out excess water. Shred them into pieces with your fingers and set aside.

In a motar & pestal (or a large bowl) combine ground pork, kroeung, sugar, salt, and tamarind base. Lightly pound so the ingredients are all mixed together. Add shredded mushrooms and basil leaves. Use a spoon/fork to fold it into the mixture.

Lay two sheets of banana leaves together. Scoop up mixture and place it in the center. Fold the side like a parcel and secure with toothpick. Repeat this step to make a total of five parcels.

Place on a hot grill and grill until the banana leaves starts to burns. Serve with your favorite fresh or cooked vegetables along with steamed rice.

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves

Here’s another quick and easy fish recipe from one of my cookbook called “Cookshelf Thai” that I wanted to share Red Curry Fish in Banana Leaves ត្រីគ្រឿងក៉ារីក្នុងស្លឹកចេក. Actually I had made this and post up the recipe before this new page layout. That time I grilled it wrapped with parchment paper and foil. It taste great as well. But since I previously shared with you my Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves recipe I thought I put the banana leaves into another use just in case you decide to purchase a whole package of banana leaves.

Again I take the easy route by using skinless boneless fish fillet. These are fairly small so I used two of them. However you can use a whole fish just make sure to scale and clean it thoroughly. Also you want to rub the red curry mixture both inside out.

2 fish fillets
4 banana leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
a couple splash of lime juice

Lay two banana leaves and place the fish on the center of the banana leaves.

In a small bowl mix together garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce and curry paste. Spread the mixture over the surface of the fish and squeeze a splash of lime juice on top.

Wrap the bananas leaves around the fish, tucking in the sides as you go, to make a neat parcel. Seal with toothpicks. Repeat with the other fish.

Place the parcel on the grill and cooked for about 20 minutes. There is no need to flip if the fillets are small like mine. The outer leaves will burn. Carefully unravel the parcel. Check that the fish is cooked. Garnish with lime wedge and chili and serve with hot steamed rice. ENJOY!

Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves

I have been eating a lot of meat & poultry these past weeks so I wanted to incorporate some fish into my menu. There are some fish dish that I normally make such as Chinese Style Steamed Fish or pan fried/grilled with just a simple marinade of salt, sugar and black pepper. However, I want to introduce my taste buds to some new flavors and what did I do? Browsed through my collection of cookbook and came across this Jungle Fish in Banana Leaves ត្រីព្រៃអាំងខ្ចប់ស្លឹកចេក from the book entitled “The Food & Cooking of Cambodia”. The recipe looked simple enough so I put it to the test with some adjustments.

“Steaming freshwater fish in banana leaves over hot charcoal is a traditional method of cooking in the jungle. Banana leaves are large and tough, and serve as basic cooking vessels and wrappers for all sorts of fish and meat.” The outcome? It was pretty good. The banana leaves gave a really nice sweet aroma when grilled. I think the fish itself can be grilled whole without the banana leaves but because it was cut up into bite size pieces it absorb a lot of the marinade. If you don’t have banana leaves you can just wrap it in foil and line it with parchment/wax paper so it doesn’t stick.

6 oz fish fillets, cut into bite size pieces
4 banana leaves, rinse and wiped

1 shallot, grated
1 inch turmeric root, peeled and grated
1 spring onion, sliced
4-5 Thai chillies, chopped (optional)
1 big cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar
a dash of salt & pepper

Note: I used the individually packed skinless and boneless frozen tilapia fillets which I defrost in the fridge. You can also use other fresh water fish fillets such as trout, carp or catfish. Banana leaves can be found in the frozen section (where spring rolls wrappers are located). Alternatively you can use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder.

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and toss chunks of fish. Stir to mix. Cover and chill for about 1-2 hours, or overnight.

Prepare your grill or barbecue. Place one of the banana leaves on a flat surface and place marinated fish in the center spreading it out evenly, then fold the sides to form a parcel. Place the parcel, fold side down, on top of another leave and fold that one in the same manner. Secure it with a toothpick or a piece of bendy wire. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

Place the parcel on the grill and cooked for about 10-15 minutes on each side. The outer leaves will burn. Carefully unravel the parcel. Check that the fish is cooked and serve with hot steamed rice. ENJOY!

Grilled Pork Patties with Cucumber Relish

Grilled Pork Patties with Cucumber Salad

Grilled Pork Patties with Cucumber Relish

Here’s a tasty recipe that I’ve found from various resource online and adapted to fit my taste bud. It is very easy and oh so delicious that I wanted to share with my readers.

My Mother had made fish cake and chicken patties in the past but I don’t think I recall her making patties out of pork before. Or maybe she had and I just don’t remember. LOL Anyhow, the other day I bought a lot of ground pork for various dish but as soon as I came across these recipe for pork patties I immediately wanted to try it out, even more so when it is “grilled” and not “fried” like fish cake. The recipe called for simple ingredients I had handy but my concern was more on how I was going to form the patty. I remember my Mother used to complained tell me that her fish cake came out a bit uneven on sizes and shape and that she used a plastic lid from a pickled jar to form the patties. 😀 So once I got my mixture ready my mind was ticking. Suddenly I got an “ah-ha” moment. LOL :mrgreen: I made a test run by forming my patties with my little 3″ sauce dish. It worked out perfectly, at least in my opinion. :) If you don’t have a jar lid or these little sauce dish you can just roll it in a ball and then press it flat to form the patties. You can also keep them round and make pork meatballs. Just stick them on a soaked skewer so it’s easier to grill.

Anything grilled goes well with pickled veggies, salad or relish. I choose to accompany my grilled pork patties with garden fresh cucumber relish. These wonderful crisp organic cucumbers were growing in my backyard so it was a great opportunity for me to use them. Here’s my take on Grilled Pork Patties with Cucumber Relish ប្រហឹតសាច់ជ្រូកនឹងជ្រុកត្រសក់.

Organic Garden Fresh Cucumbers

Organic Garden Fresh Cucumbers

1.5 lbs ground pork
1 head of garlic (about 12 cloves), finely chopped I use my garlic presser which saved lots of time
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2.5 tablespoons baking powder This is what gives it that nice and bouncy texture. It also helps keep the meat in shape and not too sticky when you form it.
1/8 cup water
1 tablespoon caramel sugar (optional)

Cucumber Relish
2 medium cucumber, halves seed removed and sliced diagonally
3-4 shallots, sliced
5 red chillies (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted roasted peanut, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar (rice or distilled)
2 tablespoons warm-hot water

In a mixing bowl combine meat, garlic, black pepper, sugar, and salt. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Next, mix the baking powder with water and whisk until you get a nice foam. Add it to the pork and fold it in with the mixture. Incorporate caramel sugar if using. This gives the patty a nice golden brown color when grilling. You can make the caramel by bringing 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ tablespoon water to a boil and then simmer until the sugar brown.

Allow everything to mingle in the fridge for about 1-2 hours. This will make it easier to form the patties.

When it’s ready, use the lid of a jar, a small sauce dish, a cookie cutter, or your palms to form a patty or meatballs. Grill about 15 minutes on each side. My recipe here makes 17 patties (3″ inches). These patties freeze well. If you plan to do so, line the patties with wax/parchment paper so it doesn’t stick and freeze them individually (single layer). Once frozen, you can transfer them into a zip lock bag and grill them at a later time. There is no need to thaw them.

To make the cucumber relish, combine slice cucumbers and shallots. Mix together sugar, fish sauce, vinegar and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolve then add it to cucumber and shallots. Allow to pickle for about 15 minutes. Just before serving top with chilies and peanuts.

Grilled Shrimp with Coriander Chili

Grilled Shrimp with Coriander & Chilli

Grilled Shrimp with Coriander Chili (makes 2 servings)
(Bongkea Arng Nung Chee Vansuy Mtess) បង្ការអាំងនិងជីវ៉ាន់សុយម្ទេស

1 lb raw prawns (shrimp), use the big ones as you will be putting them on a skewer
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons coriander (cilantro), about 6 sprigs stems and leaves finely chopped
5 red chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1/2 lime, yield about 2 tablespoons juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon ground white pepper salt
8-10 bamboo sticks


Peel and devein the prawns and cut each prawn along the back so it opens like a butterfly (leave each prawn joined along the base and at the tail). I used store-bought already cleaned and devein to save time.

Put the garlic, coriander, chili, lime juice, both oils, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and ground pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add the prawns to the marinade and mix to coat. You can transfer it to a zip lock bag and marinade it in there this way you can flip and massage it without getting your hands dirty. Or you can cover it with plastic wrap. Marinade in the fridge at least 30 minutes or overnight. I did it for about 5 hours.

Soak the bamboo stick in water for an hour or so just to prevent them from burning during cooking. Thread the prawns onto the skewers.

Heat your BBQ or grill and cook turning them frequently until the prawns turn pink and cooked through. You can brush the marinade sauce over the prawns during the cooking. Serve hot.

Spicy [Grilled] Buffalo Wings

Spicy Grilled Buffalo Wings

Spicy Grilled Buffalo Wings

We were watching a new Thai Movie (Khmer-Dubbed) called “Bok Lahong Yek បុកល្ហុងយក្ស” which translate to Giant Papaya Salad or in Thai “Som Tum”. Just the title itself got our tummy rolling and then the image of Papaya Salad got us drooling. I quickly remembered that we have some papaya in the fridge. So off I go and grab my ingredients to make some Papaya Salad. I saw some chicken wings in the fridge as well which I planned to make some Buffalo Wings. I used to make them often but then I began to cut back ( I was trying to eat healthy LOL) due to the fat content from both the wings, the battered and the oil from having it deep fried. So today I tried something new – at least to me. Perhaps some of you are aware of this method but this was my very first attempt.

Instead of deep frying the wings, I pre-cooked it with some spices and then toss it with a bit of marinade/sauce before transferring it to the grill. Because it’s partially cooked I wasn’t concern about undercooking (pink inside). Plus, it didn’t take long on the grill either. Once the outer skin is crispy and ready to serve, I toss the grilled wings with the sauce again. At first I was a bit wary of the taste because when it’s deep-fried, you get that crunch and since I pre-boiled it and then grill, I wasn’t too sure. But after the first bite, I am positive this is now my preferred method when making Buffalo Wings. The crunch was still there since the skin dries up to a crispy texture when you grill it and the inside was still moist. This is such a healthier version than the deep-fried (sometime battered) hot wings. So here’s my recipe for Spicy [Grilled] Buffalo Wings. As I was eating it with my Papaya Salad, I thought of it as an East meets West dish. 😀 You can find recipes for my Papaya Salad here.

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Papaya Salad

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Papaya Salad

1 lb of chicken wings
5 cups of water
½ onion, skin peeled
7 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon Shaoxing Cooking wine (or distilled white vinegar)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 cup Frank’s Original Red Hot sauce
1/8 cup Tabasco Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn, crushed

Bring 5 cups of water, onion, wine and smashed garlic to a boil. Add chicken wings and boil for about 5-7 minutes (depending on the size of the wings). Drained and dry with paper towel.

In a mixing boil, mix melted butter, Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce and Tabasco Sauce. Add the wings and coat evenly. Transfer to the grill and grill for about 15 minutes on each side. Reserve the sauce.

Spicy Grilled Buffalo Wings

Spicy Grilled Buffalo Wings

Just before serving toss crushed black peppercorn in the remanding sauce and add the grilled wings. Coat it evenly and transfer to a serving plate/tray. You can serve it with the traditional sides such as celery sticks, carrots and ranch|blue cheese dressing or for a healthier version you can eat it like me, with Khmer Papaya Salad or Pickled Carrots & Daikon. 😛

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Pickled Veggies

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Pickled Veggies

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