Archive for February, 2011

Cambodian Ratatouille

Cambodian Ratatouille known in Khmer as សម្លកកូរ, (Somlaw Koko) is a simple-basic hearty stew which uses assorted vegetables and strong flavorings from pickle fish or fermented fish (prohok), Khmer Kroeung and ground toasted rice. It’s also consider Cambodia’s National Dish.

Over the years, many different versions of Somlaw Koko has been created. Some added coconut milk to this stew. Growing up, my Mother never used coconut milk to make Somlaw Koko. Personally, I think the flavor is too rich and if you were to substitute the ground toasted rice with tamarind soup base, it would turn into Cambodian Sour Soup with Coconut Milk with assorted vegetables or similar to Cambodian Curry. I will leave it up to you, the Chef, to decide what works best for your taste bud.

The vegetables I used here came in a convenience package all mixed together. If you don’t have all or any of these listed you can surely use what’s in season or available in your area. Depending on the type of vegetables use you might want to separate them and add them in the order it takes to cook. My group contains pumpkin which probably might need to be added first, however at this quantity I did not bother dividing them and I did not mind a bit of crunch to my pumpkin either, again a personal preference.

Video Tutorial:

Cambodian Ratatouille (makes 5 servings)
(Somlaw Koko) សម្ល​​​កកូរ

Ingredients
1 teaspoon oil
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon ground pickle fish (prahok)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground toasted rice
4 tablespoons lemongrass paste (Khmer Kroeung)
1 lb your choice of meat (chicken, pork, or fish) cut into bite size pieces (I used pork ribs)
2 lbs assorted vegetables (pumpkin, shredded papaya, green beans, aubergine, Thai eggplants, fuzzy squash)
8 whole bird’s eye chilies (optional)
3 cups water

Method:
Heat oil in a pot and add palm sugar. Stir quickly until partly dissolve. Becareful not to burn the sugar. Remove the pot or adjust the heat if necessary.

Add in pickle fish (prohok) and stir these two ingredients together until fragrant.

Next add the meat. Stir fry until the meat is coated and slightly brown.

Add lemongrass paste and stir to combine followed by fish sauce and some salt.

Carefully slide in the assorted vegetables. Add in the chilies too if using them.

Scatter the ground toasted rice all over the vegetables. Mix it in slightly, and finally add the water.

Cover and allow the soup to return to a rapid boil. The meat on the bottom is now fully cooked. Give it a stir so the vegetables have a chance to cook and soak up all the flavors. It’s a good time to taste and adjust accordingly. Cover the lid again and continue to cook just a few more minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve with steam rice. ENJOY!


Fried Mussel with Spicy Tamarind Sauce

Simple yet delicious appetizer that I came up when the FIFA Worldcup 2010 finals was approaching. All the social network mentioned about it, and people were ready to cheer on their team. Some had plans to go hang out with friends and family where food and drink was involve. I did not have any plans instead I thought about putting something together to enjoy while watching the game at home.

Fried Mussel with Spicy Tamarind Sauce, គ្រុមចំពុះទាបំពងនិងទឹកអំពឹលទុំ, Krum Jompook Tear Nung Tirk Ompil Thum was what I came up with. I really enjoy using the Panko bread crumbs for it’s light, airy and crunchy texture. I’ve used it several times like in my Crispy Garlic Pork and Panko Crusted Fish with Lemongrass Chili Sauce and was really satisfied with the results.

Because you can prep everything and make the sauce in advance, this makes it quick and easy to whip up. Try this at your next gathering.

Fried Mussel with Spicy Tamarind Sauce (makes 12 mussels)
(Krum Jompook Tear Nung Tirk Ompil Thum), គ្រុមចំពុះទាបំពងនិងទឹកអំពឹលទុំ,

Ingredients
12 Green Shell mussels
½ cup Japanese style Panko Bread crumbs
1/3 cup rice flour
1 egg
salt
fresh ground pepper
3 bowls/plates or containers
Spicy Tamarind Sauce

Method:
Defrost mussel if frozen. Remove mussel from shell. Thoroughly rinse both shell and meat separately. Drain and set aside separately.

In container #1 mix rice flour with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In container #2 crack an egg and use a fork to lightly whisk.

In container #3 add panko bread crumbs.

Make a station with 3 separate large plates one for flour, egg and panko bread crumbs. Use one hand (the dry hand) to dust the flour on lightly then move to the next station and drench the mussel with your other hand (wet hand). On the 3rd station return your dry hand and coat with panko bread crumbs. Press them in lightly so they stick to the mussel. Repeat this process until all mussels are done, set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan and once they are hot add the mussel and fry them. Watch carefully as the bread crumbs tend to brown pretty quick. Adjust heat accordingly. You can start with med-high heat and then crank it up toward the end to get a nice golden brown crust. Cook until all sides turn golden brown and allow to rest on paper towel to remove excess oil, which should not be much.

To serve, lay the fried mussel back into it’s shell and serve with the Spicy Tamarind Sauce. ENJOY!

Cambodian Style Stir Fry Lemongrass

There are several version of stir fry lemongrass out there such as the Vietnamese and the Thai. Each region has their own uniqueness and distinctive flavor. This can also be said for my Cambodian Style Stir Fry Lemongrass, ឆាគ្រឿងសាច់ចិញ្រ្ចាំ (Cha Kroeung Sach Jengjram). While some can just chop up stalks of lemongrass then throw it into the stir fry and call it Stir Fry Lemongrass, Cambodian style is rather a bit more complex. As long as I can recall Cambodian Stir Fry Lemongrass use what we call “Kroeung” which is a made with a combination of aromatics.

I’ve mentioned it many times that this had got to be one of my top 3 Cambodian dishes. The spicier the better! In the past I’ve made this stir fry using finely chopped quails in my Fiery Stir-Fried Lemongrass Quail. This time around, using the same recipe I’ve decided to go with store bought ground pork and made a tutorial to show how quick and easy it is to whip up this delicious Cambodian dish. In addition, because it’s winter fresh holy basil are nearly impossible to get my hands on therefore I have opt frozen holy basil which I had preserve from the fresh one during the summer. See my steps on how to preserve holy basil leaves for later use.

Video Tutorial:

Cambodian Style Stir Fry Lemongrass (makes 2-3 servings)
(Cha Kroeung Sach Jengjram) ឆាគ្រឿងសាច់ចិញ្រ្ចាំ

Ingredients
oil for stir frying
½ cup lemongrass paste, Khmer Kroeung
½ tablespoon finely chopped Pahok (optional)
1 lb ground meat of your choice (chicken, pork, turkey, quail)
jalapeños, sliced lengthwise (adjust amount to taste)
2 teaspoon sugar
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
½ tablespoon tamarind soup base
½ cup of holy basil leaves

Method:
Heat a pan and fry the lemongrass and pahok (if using) until fragrant. Add your choice of ground meat and continue to stir fry until they are cook. It will be dry but that’s okay.

Next add jalapeños and the remainder ingredients. Quickly stir to combine the ingredients. Taste and adjust to your preference. Turn the heat off and add holy basil leaves. Give it a final stir and transfer to a serving dish.

How to Preserve Holy Basil Leaves
You will need holy basil leaves and oil.

Pick out the leaves and tender stems. Flash rinse them quickly and thoroughly dry them. If you have a salad spinner, this would be an excellent way to dry them.

Once they are fully dry, heat a pan to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the pan and toss in the holy basil leaves.

Flash fry the leaves by quickly tossing them around so the leaves are coated with the oil. The heat and the oil will cause the leaves to wilt a bit, this is perfectly fine. Since the leaves are light and tender it should not take very long, less than a minute. If you have a large amount to preserve, I suggest you flash fry them in batches to prevent over crowding.

Next transfer it onto a platter and allow to cool. Once cool you can bag them up in small batches (servings) and store it in the freezer.

When it is time to use, you can defrost it slightly and add to recipes that calls for holy basil.

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