Archive for April, 2010

Stir-Fried Mussels with Holy Basil

This incredibly fragrant and delicious stir fried mussels can be enjoyed as a main course served along hot steamy rice or with a fresh French loaf to soak all the wonderful juices.

Here I’m using previously frozen mussels that are in it’s half shell. They come in a 1½ lb container. You can definitely use fresh ones. Make sure you scrub them thoroughly and discard the open ones. It will also require just a little more cooking time. I am also using the tender Holy Basil which has a spicier and sweeter than Sweet Basil but you can also use regular Basil known as Thai Basil. Another key ingredient in this dish is the roasted chili paste. It is packed with many tasty ingredients like sugar, shallot, garlic, soyabean oil, dried chile, fish sauce, dried shrimp, msg, paprika.

While I made this mussels you can also substitute this with chicken or even pork.

Stir Fried Mussels with Holy Basil (makes 2-3 servings)
(Cha Krum Jompous Tear Maress Prov) ឆារគ្រុំចំពុះទាម្រៈព្រៅ

Video Tutorial:

Ingredients
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 bird’s eye chilies, slit in half length-wise (discard seeds if you don’t like spicy)
2 tablespoons roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup holy basil leaves
1½ lb mussels

Method:
To ease the flow of cooking, combine palm sugar, fish sauce and roasted chili paste together. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan until hot. Add minced garlic followed by chilies. Quickly stir until fragrant.

Add mussels and stir to coat with garlic and chili oil. Allow them to hang out another 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add in roasted chili mixture. Stir until sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes. However, if it’s too dry, you can add water or stock, 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Finally, add the holy basil leaves. Give it a couple more stir and remove from heat.

To serve, slide mussels and sauce onto a serving platter, mound them into a pile. Garnish with fresh sprigs of holy basil. ENJOY!

Vietnamese-Style Sour Soup with Shrimp


I’ve made Vietnamese-Style Sour Soup ,various time but finally this time I took some time to document my recipe in addition to making a cooking video to share. This is my Cambodian take on a very popular Vietnamese soup known as Canh Chua Tom or in Khmer called Somlaw Machew Youn Bongkong សម្លម្ជូរយួនបង្កង. Light and refreshing but yet yeild a lot of flavors from the fresh herbs and vegetable. Fried garlic topped at the end not only add a wonderful aroma but a hint of a smokey flavor.

Here I use plump black tiger prawns which cook fairly quickly. You can also use fish, chicken, or pork ribs. Meats take a bit longer time to cook. You would want to make sure that those meats are at least 90% cook before you start adding vegetables. Otherwise the vegetables will get mushy or soggy while waiting for the meat to cook.

Moreover, there are an abundance of vegetables you can use. I suggest you go with what you like. I’ve made this soup using orkra, elephant ear (kdard), and even water spinach (trokoun).

Vietnamese-Style Sour Soup with Shrimp (makes 3-4 servings)
(Somlaw Machew Youn Bongkong) សម្លម្ជូរយួនបង្កង

Video Tutorial:


Ingredients
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3½ cups water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1½ tablespoons tamarind soup base
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 (16 oz) can quail eggs (yield about 18 eggs)
20 black tiger shrimp, peeled & devein (about 1 lb)
3 cups sliced fresh pineapple
1 jalapeños, sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup bean sprout
1 cup chopped sawtooth herb and/or rice paddy herb

Method:
Heat oil in a small sauce pan/pot. Test oil with a piece of garlic. If it sizzle right away then it’s ready. Add the remainder and fry until brown. DO NOT WALK AWAY! Garlic brown very fast. Stir it so they don’t clump. Once the garlic are fried, strain and set aside. Reserve the oil for another dish like fried eggs or sauteed vegetables.

Next, in a pot bring water to a rolling boil. Add sugar, tamarind soup base and fish sauce. Give it a stir to combine.

Add quail eggs gently so the soup doesn’t splash on you. Technically, the eggs are cooked so you are just warming them up again.

Add black tiger shrimp, sliced pineapples, jalapeños, shallots, diced tomatoes, bean sprouts and chopped herb. Give it a stir and allow it to come back to a boil.

Ladle to a severing bowl and E-N-J-O-Y!

Cambodian Green Mango Salad with Dried Shrimp


One of the highlights during my first trip to Cambodia back in 2006 was FOOD. Among the many authentic Cambodian dishes I sampled one particular stood out. In Battambang Province my Parents, relatives and I went out for dinner. I didn’t know what to order so one of my cousin suggested that I order Ngorm Makok (Ambarella Salad). I usually eat Makok pickled in a jar with salt and chili but never fresh and in the form of a salad. I gave it a go and within a few minutes the salad was on the table. The image and the flavors still linger in my mind until this day. It was so delicious! Then when I returned home I been wanting to recreate that dish but never had a chance to do so until my recent trip to Georgia. When I was there I popped my friend’s fridge opened and survey what was there. In the freezer I saw a bag of smoked fish that came from Cambodia. I immediately thought about my Ngorm Makok. It’s difficult to get my hands on fresh Makok in the states so I replace it with crispy and tart green mango. My recipe was based loosely on flavors I could recall from my 2006 trip along with my experience with making Cambodian salad. In no time I had my green mango salad with Cambodian smoked fish on the dinner table. Me and my friends all enjoyed it so much that I made it twice during my 5 days stay.

I don’t have Cambodian Smoked Fish at the moment so I just left it out and use dried shrimps instead. By pre-soaking the dried shrimp it will wash away the grainy stuff that might of been attached to them. It will also expand in size. I then toast to seal in the outer layer and pound it lightly with a mortar and pestle. This will keep it nice and crunchy and it doesn’t get soggy too quickly once it’s tossed in the salad. Chopped roasted peanuts are a great addition too but I totally forgot to include it this time.

Cook’s Note: If possible, try to buy the green mango in the vegetable section of the Asian Supermarket. The skin will have a light green color. The shape will be bit flat and oval. The flesh tend to be white or pale yellow. These variety has a crisp texture an a tart taste. Do not use the mangoes in the fruit section. Even though the outer peel may look green and hard to the touch, their flesh will still have that yellow color and tend to be soft and mushy when you cut into it unlike those you find at the Asian stores.

Cambodian Green Mango Salad with Dried Shrimp (makes 2 servings)
(Ngorm Svay Kjey Nung Bongkea Kream) ញុំាស្វាយខ្ចីនិងបង្គាក្រៀម

Video Tutorial:

Ingredients
1 medium size green mango, skin peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon lime juice (1 lime)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried shrimp, pre-soak in water about 30 mins
1 teaspoon chopped fresh bird’s eye chili (optional)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (mint, green onions, sawtooth, or basil)
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

Method:
Heat a small pan and lightly oil it. Add dried shrimps and give it a quick stir. Fry it to give them a nice crispy texture. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and lightly pound it to break up the fibers. This will allow the shrimp to absorb the flavors from the dressing but also retain that nice and crunchy texture. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, salt and fresh chili.

Add shallots, green mango, dried shrimp and fresh herbs. Toss the salad to combine.

Transfer to a serving plate and E-N-J-O-Y!

Cambodian Lime-Marinated Beef Salad


Here is another Classic Cambodian dish that is popular among Cambodian household. Marinated beef is tossed with fresh herbs and different vegetables. Chopped peanuts provide that extra nutty crunchy taste. My addition of jalapeños added a nice kick to every bite. It does look a bit similar to the Thai Style Larb with Beef. The addition of Pahok juice makes this distinctively Cambodian, but it’s optional.

What prompted me to make this dish was the beautiful bright red radishes that were on sale this week at the market. I’ve never worked with these beautiful things before but I bought it anyways because it was only .50 cent per bunch. Then I remembered that my Mother had use it in several of her salad recipes. I went to my cookbook collection and settled with The Elephant Walk Cookbook.

As I flipped through The Elephant Walk Cookbook I came across the recipe for Lime-Marinated Beef with Bean Sprouts and Mint. Author Longteine De Monteiro & Katherine Neustadt stated in the book “I fear that this recipe has been lost to the younger generation, and I would like to help restore it.” Her message did get across to me. My recipe is adapt loosely from this cookbook. I added a few additional ingredients, tweaked the measurements to fit my taste and also adjust my method of cooking the raw beef.

To be honest this was my very first time making it on my own plus eating this classic dish even though my Mother made had made it several times when I grew up. Mostly for my Father and his friends when they come over to practice traditional music for Cambodian weddings. This was way back in the late 80s. Now the gathering are smaller and less often. Perhaps it’s because the thought of eating raw beef doesn’t sound appealing to us kids even when we were told that it is technically cooked once it’s been cut into paper thin slice and marinated in lime juice. Still, we shook our heads and turned away. Instead we made fried eggs and poured soy seasoning sauce on top to go with our hot steamy rice. Which is what I did (again) as a back-up plan when I made this.

I was hesitant to taste my salad at first even when I used a different cooking method. But after a bite with my eyes tightly close, man oh man, it was G-O-O-D. Now I wish I had done it a long time. This dish is fairly easy to make and most of the cooking time goes to prepping. IMO, the meat can be prepared in many ways. You can grill it before making the salad or pan fry it after marinating. It’s is totally up to you. That is one of the perks of cooking your own dish.

Cambodian Lime-Marinated Beef Salad (makes 2-3 servings)
(Plear Sachko) ភ្លាសាច់គោ
adapt from The Elephant Walk Cookbook

Video Tutorial:


Ingredients
½ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon small stalk lemongrass, very thinly sliced
½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic
½ lb boneless top round, sliced as thinly as possible against the grain
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Pahok juice (optional)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 radishes, skin slightly peeled and thinly sliced
1 jalapeños, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and coarsely chopped

Method:
Partly freeze the beef to make it a bit firm. This will enable easy handling and ease of thinly slicing the beef.

Combine half of the lime juice with 1 tablespoons of sugar, the lemongrass and half of the garlic in a medium bowl. Mix well, then add the beef, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, water, Pahok juice (if using) and the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the sugar dissolves completely, then add the remaining lime juice, shallots, and the remaining garlic. Set aside.

Drain the beef, pressing gently with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. At this point, you can either proceed with the next step, or like me, take it another step forward by bringing about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil and then add the beef to cook for just one minute. Remove and strain. Allow it to cool to the touch and press it gently to remove excess liquid.

Return the beef to the mixing bowl and add sliced radish, jalapenos, bean sprouts, mint, basil and half the chopped peanuts. Toss well. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish the salad with sprinkles of peanut and serve.

Grilled Oysters with Spicy Lime Sauce

It’s been two days since I returned from my trip to Decatur, GA. I had a great time there. Toured many great places (will post pictures and video later) and had a chance to visit three different states while there. One of the highlights of this trip was cooking and eating with friends. We whipped up a lot of classic Cambodian dishes. If you were following me on twitter you probably saw my up-to-the-minute photos of those dishes. However, when I got back I was craving for something different, seafood. Unsure what triggered this craving but I was very happy when I picked up my mail and see that fresh oysters were on sale this week for only .50 cents each! It’s been a long time since I had grilled oysters.

Growing up in Stockton, CA my sister had a lot of gatherings with families and her friends. Oysters were pretty affordable there and they would buy them by the bag. I don’t know how many pounds there were but there were a lot in those bag. My Mother would sometime grill them and other times steam them. Some guest had their own way of making the sauce but my most favorite sauce to paired with grilled or steamed oysters in the shell is this spicy lime sauce. This sauce is very versatile and you can pair it with many grilled meats and seafood. It’s similar to the lime sauce that usually accompany Marinated Beef with Lime Sauce (aka Beef Lok Lac). The base is the same with a few extra ingredients added on. I’ve had it as dipping sauce as well where I simply grill some steak (un-seasoned), slice it thinly and wrap it in lettuce, cucumbers and fresh herbs then dunk it into the spicy lime sauce. DER-LICIOUS! :)


Grilled Oysters with Spicy Lime Sauce (for 10 oysters)
(Kjong Ang Tuk Jroluk Marech Kroach Chma)ខ្យងអាំងទឹកជ្រលកម្រេចក្រូចឆ្មារ

Ingredients
10 fresh oysters in their shell
½ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
a handful of fresh chopped herbs (such as cilantro, basil, green onions, Asian mint)
water (optional)

Video Tutorial to make Spicy Lime Sauce:


Method:
Prepare the grill and meanwhile clean the oysters. Using a stiff brush scrub the oyster under cold running water. Make sure you scrub around the opening edges well. Rinse off any dirt off the shell.

Place the oysters on the grill so that none are overlapping. Place oysters so that they’re resting on their deeply curved halves of their shells so their juices don’t run out.

Grill for about 5-7 minutes or until the oysters starts to open. Carefully remove from grill.

To make the spicy lime sauce, in a bowl combine all remainder ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust accordingly. If you feel that the lime is too strong for your taste you can dilute it with a couple teaspoons of water.

Some oysters might not open as wide as others therefore, you can use a fork to pry them open. Be careful, use kitchen towel if necessary. Serve on a half shell with some spicy lime sauce.

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