Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Hello Everyone! February flew by in just the blink of an eye, and before we know it, in a couple of days it’ll be March already! This also means that this will be the last Cambodian recipe that I will be sharing on my blog, for now. There are still so many wonderful recipes that the country has to offer, and maybe one day I’ll revisit the cuisine and discover more dishes that’ll take a liking to my tastebuds.

For our last Cambodian cuisine, I’ll be sharing a popular street snack that is sold across the country, known as Num Ansom Chek, or in English, Rolled Banana Rice Cake. It is a traditional Cambodian snack that is low fat, healthy, and easy to make as it only requires a few ingredients to put together. In many Cambodian snacks, banana is used because of its abundance in the tropical region, and its ritual value. Of course, it is also delicious and sweet!

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Other than bananas, this snack also includes sticky rice and grated coconut. Sometimes, jackfruit is also added, but since I’m not a huge fan of jackfruit, I’ve replaced them with strips of mango instead. You may also add red mung beans or black beans and it can also be sweetened with palm sugar if desired. All of this is then carefully rolled and enclosed in a banana leaf. The resulting cylindrical-shaped snack is then steamed until tender and fragrant.

In Cambodia, this sweet delicacy is traditionally prepared for important celebrations such as Cambodian New Year and the religious festival Pchum Ben (Festival of Souls). With a culture that is heavily influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, during a festival, it is common practice to offer food to the monks at the temple, and the ghosts of our ancestors, relatives, and friends. One of the foods that they offer is Num Ansom Chek because of their ability to be kept for days without being spoiled. This is due to them being wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Vanier Culinary by Thun-Carl Sieu.

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 6 ROLLS

*Allow for 6 hours to overnight to soak the glutinous rice.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe mango (optional)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sweet glutinous rice, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • Salt, to taste
  • Banana leaves, 6 of about 15cm x 20cm pieces

METHOD

  1. Drain the water from the soaked rice and mix the grated coconut in with the rice.
  2. Peel and cut the bananas in half and sprinkle a touch of salt over them.
  3. Take a piece of banana leaf and place a small portion of the rice and coconut mixture in a horizontal line along the longer side of the banana leaf. Place a banana half in the centre of the rice and strips of ripe mango if you wish. Top the fruits with more rice, there should be enough to fully surround them.

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

  1. Roll the banana leaf tightly around the rice to form a log and fold both edges in to seal. Make sure that the leaf is not loose so that the mixture can use it as a mold. Use string to secure the banana leaf wrapping if needed. Repeat until all of the bananas have been wrapped.
  2. Stack the rolls in a steamer and steam over boiling water for about 60 minutes.
  3. Once done, allow to cool slightly before unwrapping and serving. Enjoy!

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Hello Everyone! Forget about brownie sundaes, forget about éclairs and chocolate cake; the real desserts, the sinfully sweet and decadent treats, can be found in one region: Southeast Asia. Ingredients in Southeast Asian treats are less traditional than the sweet flavours you typically see in Western desserts. Ingredients like cassava, mung beans, and lotus seeds paired with sticky sweet syrups like coconut cream, palm syrup, and condensed milk are common and no strangers to Cambodian treats. Beyond these ingredients you can also always expect to have at least one fresh fruit added to the mix. Look for favourites like mangoes, rambutan, durian and of course, bananas.

Just as Southeast Asian desserts, Cambodian treats are most frequently enjoyed mid-morning. Instead of being served to cap off a delicious meal, the treats are bought and enjoyed in markets as you are doing your shopping around town. Many of the most popular Khmer treats are sold from mobile street stands. Look out for the crowds of students outside universities and schools, flocked around a stand.

Traditional Cambodian treats, also known as Khmer sweets, also come in the form of custards and puddings; egg-based dishes that are spiced up with a variety of flavours (vanilla and cinnamon are typical favourites). Since rice remains a main staple in current day cuisine, being eaten as often as three times a day, rice-based cakes are also very popular.

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Tonight, I will be sharing a Cambodian favoured treat that is simple and super easy to make at home. The best part? You’ll most likely have everything readily available to whip this up in your pantry. Num Treap, or in English, Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds, is a treat that is basically as the name states, steamed sticky rice mixed in a warm coconut sauce. The mixture is then spread into a baking dish or pan, topped with sesame seeds, and then set aside to cool before cutting into squares and then served. You may serve it as it is, or with fruits on the side. Num in Cambodian means pastry, so it is essentially a sticky rice (bai damnaeb) pastry treat.

This dessert is very much similar to a sweet rice cake that we have here in the Philippines known as Biko. It is also made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice, that is topped with latik (coconut curds) instead of sesame seeds.

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds) Ingredients

PREP TIME 60 MINS* | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | MAKES 9 SLICES

*Allow for an additional 6 hours (or more) to soak the glutinous rice before cooking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sweet glutinous rice, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Rice: Drain the water (no need to shake off the excess water), and evenly arrange the soaked sticky rice in a steamer lined with a greased banana leaf.
  2. Cover and steam for 30-45 minutes. You can check the rice and increase the steaming time if need be. Once done, keep the rice in the steamer or covered to prevent it from drying out until you need to use it.
  3. Coconut Sauce: While the rice is cooking, add the coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  4. Num Treap: Fluff the cooked rice with a fork to separate the grains. With the heat off, add the rice to the saucepan with the coconut sauce and mix well.
  5. Spread the rice mixture into a shallow dish or baking pan, pressing them down with a spatula. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to set and cool for about an hour.
  6. Cut into squares, then serve and enjoy!

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry)

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry)

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that January went by so quickly, and it’s already the 3rd day of the 2nd month of 2021! Last week we shared our last recipe for local Bruneian eats; our first stop on our road to discover the Flavours of Southeast Asia for Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Our next stop for the month is Cambodia! Cambodian cuisine must be Southeast Asia’s most under-appreciated and most misunderstood cuisines amongst the others, and there’s a whole article about it that you can read if you have the time – Dispelling Cambodian Cuisine Myths.

Now, before I proceed, due to the limitations of sourcing certain ingredients, you may find the dishes shared here over the course of the month a little on the unauthentic side and I do apologise to any of my Cambodian readers or passersby. I tried my best to get as close to the original and traditional recipes.

Moving forward, Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្, or in English, Steamed Fish Curry is Cambodia’s national dish; a classic Khmer dish traditionally served during the Water Festival in Cambodia as a way to thank the Mekong River for providing Cambodia with abundant fish and fertile land. It is a fragrant and spicy coconut fish curry that is tenderly steamed in banana leaves. The flavour of the dish is quite reminiscent of a mild Thai red curry. The fish is soaked in a rich Khmer kroeung paste and placed in little steamer cups made from banana leaves, imparting their specific flavour into the dish. When cooked, it should have a texture that has been described as a mousse, mousseline, soufflé, and custard.

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry)

Locals prefer cooking with goby fish, snakehead fish, or catfish – all freshwater fish from the Tonle Sap or Great Lake, when preparing Amok Trei. Most cookbooks written in the West suggest a firm white fish such as cod or snapper. In cooking classes in Siem Reap, cooking instructors tell participants they can use anything from barramundi to salmon. I used tilapia for my take on Amok Trei and it’s really up to you to decide what fish you want to cook with and most importantly what is readily available in your local market.

Khmer kroeung paste is the basic kroeung or freshly pounded herb and spice paste in Cambodian cooking. It gets its yellow colour from the turmeric and lemongrass stems. The yellow kroeung is used for many classic Khmer and Cambodian dishes, including Amok Trei. Now, a traditional kroeung paste would use kaffir lime zest, but since I could not source any from my local vegetable stall, I went ahead and used lemon zest instead. I also used bottled galangal for the same reason of being unable to source fresh ones.

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry)

Older generations of cooks believe that if it’s not properly steamed, it’s not Amok Trei. Amok means to steam in banana leaves in Khmer and it is thought that this refined dish is a Royal Khmer specialty dating back to the Khmer Empire. If it’s not steamed, it’s not amok, it’s curry. Despite its regal origins, Amok Trei is a dish that you’ll see sold in banana baskets on trays in markets and on the street.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Grantourismo by Lara and Terence.

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | MAKES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the kroeung paste

  • 5-6 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small-sized turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed galangal
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

For the amok trei

  • 750g tilapia fish filets, cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk*
  • 3 tbsp kroeung paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp palm or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • Pinch of salt

*I made my own coconut milk from grated mature coconut, but you can use store bought coconut milk if you wish.

To garnish

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced

For the banana leaf boats

  • Banana leaves
  • Toothpicks

METHOD

  1. Kroeung Paste: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the lemongrass until completely mashed and you can no longer see its rings. Add the galangal, turmeric, and lemon zest, and pound further until they’re incorporated into the mashed lemongrass. Lastly, add the garlic and onion, and continue to pound. Work in batches if needed. The finished paste will have some fibres from the lemongrass but should otherwise be quite smooth in texture.
  2. Amok Trei: In the same mortar, add the dried chillies and pound well into the kroeung paste.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the kroeung, fish chunks, and the other ingredients. Lightly combine to avoid breaking up the fish chunks. Adjust the seasoning by cooking a bit of the mixture to be able to taste. The Amok should be well balanced; a little fishy, a little salty, slightly sweet, a tad spicy, and rich and creamy. Adjust as necessary by adding a pinch of salt or sugar, fish sauce, or even a little chilli. Set aside to marinate for about half an hour before steaming.
  4. Banana Leaf Boats: Meanwhile, prepare the banana leaf boats. Wipe a fresh banana leaf with a damp towel to remove any dirt and debris. Cut out the centre stem from the leaf and cut further into smaller rectangular pieces, about 15cm x 20cm in size.
  5. Blanch the leaf pieces in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then dry and let it cool.
  6. Place the banana leaf piece with the shiny side down so it ends up on the outside. Fold the one of the short sides about an inch and a half over, do the same with the one of the longer sides. Pinch and fold the corner over onto the short side. Do the same with the other side and and fasten the folds with a toothpick. Repeat on the other side to form a banana leaf boat. For a picture guide, you can head on over to Table for 2 or More by WendyinKK.
  7. Steaming: Divide the fish amok mixture equally into 6 or 8 banana leaf boats, filling each boat almost to the top. Carefully place into the steamer basket and steam for 20 minutes. The fish amok should be cooked through and firm to touch but still retain moistness. It should not be dry.
  8. About 15 minutes into steaming, top each boat of fish amok with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, and chillies. Continue to steam for another 5 minutes.
  9. Once done, serve immediately with freshly steamed white rice and a side of vegetables of your choice. Enjoy!

Amok Trei អាម៉ុកត្ (Steamed Fish Curry)

Notes:

  • If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you may use a food processor to make your kroeung paste.
  • Other proteins such as chicken, tofu, and snails can also be used as a substitute for the fish in this dish (but note horrifies older generations).

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2019: May (my_kusina_ph)

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Hello everyone, my name is May. I am behind the IG account @my_kusina_ph. I normally feature Filipino food and I love using “bilao” as my plating dish, hence, the hashtag #bilaoserye for some of my home-cooked meals. It was last August since I started my IG food account, almost a year now. My friends encouraged me to set one up as they know how much I love to cook (because I have been cooking for them a lot! Lucky them!). So I said to myself, why not give it a try!

When I was a kid, my lola (grandmother) and mother, both true blooded Kapampangans (Kapampangans by the way are known to be one of the best Filipino cooks) would ask me to help out in the kitchen by washing utensils and chopping ingredients. At that time, I felt it was more of a chore. Later on in high school, I find myself enjoying my “me” time in our little kitchen, experimenting and trying out recipes (I’m having goosebumps right now as I remember my aunt’s handwritten recipe book). I guess that’s when my love for cooking started.

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Through IG, I have met people who share the same passion in cooking and food in general. They have inspired me to become a better cook. Most of them are generous enough in sharing their recipes! Allison is one of the warmest people whom I’ve met virtually in IG. I wish to meet her in person someday! She would post the ingredients and let us guess what she would be cooking next. Often times, she would feature a particular ingredient and highlight how it can be used in a certain dish. I am very happy to be part of her “Auguest” series!

This month, her blog would be featuring fruits. I chose to feature green papaya since it’s very accessible in tropical countries like the Philippines.

Back home in the province, we would just pick this fruit from our farm anytime we needed one for cooking. Here in Manila, everything comes with a price, unless you have a tree in your backyard or a generous neighbor has one. Here’s a photo of our papaya tree:

Papaya Tree

I have travelled around Asia and whenever I visit a country, I make it a point to enrol myself on short cooking courses to learn more about the local cuisine. I love the diversity in Asian cuisine; the way various spices and herbs come together to create a glorious dish!

Green Papaya Salad is a well known Asian salad dish. It’s a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. In fact, it is present in most Southeast Asian cuisines. In Thailand, this dish is called Som Tam, in Cambodia, Bok L’hong, in Laos as Tam Som and in Vietnam as Gỏi đu đủ.

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

For the green papaya salad

  • 200g green papaya, shredded
  • 40g carrots, shredded
  • 6 string beans, cut into 2 inches long
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-3 red bird’s eye chilis, chopped
  • 1-2 stalks of Coriander leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 6 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
  • 3 pcs Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs*

For the dressing

  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 7 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 5-7 tbsp coconut sugar

*To cook the soft-shell crabs, dredge them in seasoned flour with salt, then dipped in beaten egg, and lastly coated with flour. Deep fry in cooking oil until golden in color and crispy.

METHOD

  1. First, add the chilis, garlic cloves, and string beans together in a mortar. Lightly crush/pound.
  2. Add in coconut sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and mix well, adjusting the flavors as you work, to your liking.
  3. Lastly, add in shredded papaya and carrots. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish, and top with roasted peanuts and crispy fried soft-shell crabs. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve.

Below is a photo of the tool I used for shredding the papaya and carrots. Easy to use. I got it from one of my market tours in Vietnam and it only costs Php 100!

Vegetable/Fruit Shredder

Here’s the finished product!

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Enjoy this healthy salad dish! Oh, you can top it with shrimp if you can’t find soft-shell crabs!

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | May (my_kusina_ph)

BON APPÉTIT

– May (my_kusina_ph)

myTaste.com