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

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Hello Everyone! If you haven’t already guessed it, or if I haven’t already told some of you (for a special project this coming August), the theme for this year on the blog is Colours of the Rainbow! Tonight, and for the rest of the month of May, I will be continuing on with the colour yellow.

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

If you love simple ingredients with beautiful, massive flavours, then you’ve found the right recipe! This Aloo Kadhi, or in English, Indian Potato Curry, has incredible flavours that are hard to beat. Even though I ended up mashing almost half of the potatoes in this curry, mine didn’t turn out as thick in consistency as I would have wanted it to be, but that’s easy to fix – just mash up more potatoes!

This recipe may not have all the authentic spices found in a traditional Aloo Curry, but I can guarantee it tastes amazing! Vidhya, I know you still read my blog posts after so many years, so please don’t grill me on this dish *cheeky grin* Anyway, it’s terrific with freshly made puri, a crisp and puffy Indian bread, or with paratha, an unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out where I drew my inspiration from. The original recipe is on Scrambled Chefs by Aena.

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 35 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, wash, peeled, and cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 pcs whole cloves
  • 2 pcs star anise
  • 1 pc cinnamon bark
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized fresh turmeric, julienned
  • 2 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Handful of blanched kale leaves, to garnish (optional)

METHOD

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the cinnamon bark, star anise, and whole cloves; sauté until fragrant, about a minute or two. Be careful not to burn the aromatics. Then add the minced garlic and fresh turmeric and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the potatoes into the pot, together with the ground paprika, chilli flakes, curry powder, and turmeric powder. Season with salt, to taste, and then give it a good mix, cooking for about a minute or two.
  3. Add the water or vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boiling. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If desired, use a fork to mash up some of the potatoes to thicken the curry to the consistency of your liking. Let it simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  4. Check and taste to see if the curry needs additional seasoning. If so, season with a touch more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Once done, transfer to a serving dish and top with some blanched kale. Or, if you’re not a coriander hater like myself, go ahead and top your Aloo Kadhi off with a sprinkle of chopped coriander.
  6. Serve hot with some freshly cooked Indian bread of choice. You may also choose to enjoy this dish with some freshly cooked basmati rice if you’re a starch on starch kind of person. Enjoy!

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Notes:

  1. Cut the potatoes into small-sized cubes if you want the potatoes to cook faster. The bigger the potato pieces, the longer it will take for them to cook all the way through.
  2. Cook the potato curry on low to medium heat. Potatoes are root-based starches that thicken up and soften more easily when cooked on low heat. Therefore, when you cook the curry on low heat, not only will it cook the potatoes all the way through, it will also make the curry thick and at the right consistency.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Seafood Thai Red Curry

Seafood Thai Red Curry

Hello Everyone! The secret to a great, vibrant, and spicy Seafood Thai Red Curry is of course the quality of the red curry paste, spices and aromatics, vegetables, and the freshest seafood you can find out there. The best thing about this dish is that it is pescatarian-friendly, dairy-free, and gluten-free!

Seafood Thai Red Curry

When it comes to a seafood-loaded curry, versatility is one of the things that I love about it. You can pretty much load it up with any type of fish, shellfish, and seafood of your choice. The same goes with the vegetables. Also, depending on the ingredients you choose to add to the dish, it can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

For those who know me, I would normally tackle recipes like this by making my own paste. However, due to the limited availability of certain ingredients here in the Philippines, I thought long and hard before I opted to use store-bought paste. Just make sure that if you are using good-quality and authentic Thai Red Curry Paste. They can usually be found in the international aisle of any large supermarket chains.

Seafood Thai Red Curry Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g salmon belly, skin removed* and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 100g baby clams, de-grit and cleaned**
  • 100g baby mussels, cleaned and debearded***
  • 100g baby squid, cleaned
  • 50g snow peas
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 bunch baby bok choy, halved
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies, whole or sliced
  • 1 block firm tofu, cut into large cubes
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
  • 1 small piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved then sliced
  • 3/4 cup fish stock (or 1 fish bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup water)
  • 3/4 cup extra light olive oil
  • 200ml full cream coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp Authentic Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Thai basil leaves or spring onion, to garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

* Do not discard the skin
** Find out how to de-grit and clean clams over on Just One Cookbook
*** Find out how to clean and debeard mussels over on Epicurious

METHOD

  1. Crispy Salmon Skin: Place the salmon skin into a bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of salt. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. This is to draw out the moisture from the salmon skin to get it nice and crispy when fried. Pat the salmon skin dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a medium-sized frying pan, heat the 3/4 cup of extra light olive oil, or enough oil for shallow frying, over medium-high. The oil should be very hot, but not smoking or else the salmon skin will burn before fully crisping. Stir the skin around frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pan. The skin will look rubbery at first, so take your time as it can take a full 10 to 15 minutes for it to crisp up. Once crispy, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Set aside.
  3. Preparing the Tofu: Meanwhile, if using tofu from a package, drain and allow to sit on a clean tea towel or paper towel to get rid of any excess water. Set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes for it to fully extract moisture.
  4. In the same medium-sized frying pan, over medium-high heat, carefully add the tofu in and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and let it sit on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes, and set aside.
  5. Seafood Thai Red Curry: In a soup pot or heavy duty Dutch oven, heat about 2 tablespoons of the extra light olive oil over medium-high and sauté the onions, ginger, lemongrass, and chillies until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Thai red curry paste and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the fish stock and cherry tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and black pepper, as well as with the Thai fish sauce and brown sugar to get the balance of flavours up to your liking. Feel free to add more chillies in if you feel you need a bit more of a spicy punch to the soup base.
  7. Add the lemon juice for some tang, together with the tofu bites, and followed by the snow peas. Cook the snow peas for about a minute and then remove them from the pot. Transfer to a separate plate. Do the same with the baby bok choy. This is to prevent the vegetables from overcooking.
  8. Add the baby clams and mussels and cook for 2 minutes before adding the salmon belly and baby squid to the pot, together with the coconut milk. Cook for a further minute, or until the soup comes back up to a rapid simmer.
  9. Turn the heat off and transfer the curry to a serving dish. Garnish with the crispy salmon skin, Thai basil leaves or spring onions, and fresh chillies. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Seafood Thai Red Curry

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Hello Everyone! Oh how it has been one heck of a super hectic and stressful week! So hectic that even until today I haven’t had the time to sit down and watch the second episode of the final season of Game of Thrones! *gasp* With that being said, I do have an important announcement to make which you can read about at the end of this post.

Moving on, we’re on our last Pineapple recipe for the month! How crazy is that?! It’ll be May already next week, and in another blink of an eye, we’ll be at the halfway mark of the year! Tonight I’ll be sharing a recipe that I first tried during my travels to Thailand – now I’ve been there a couple of times already so I can’t remember when exactly was the first time I had it there, whether 6, 10, or 15 years ago.

Cooking fried rice is fun as it is super quick to make and it allows you to get creative with the choice of proteins and vegetables that go into the mix. It can easily be a sort of clean-out-the-fridge. The end result, a tasty and satisfying weeknight meal to eat!

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice is a refreshing twist to a classic/normal fried rice. It is one of Thailand’s signature dishes, It is often platted in a carved-out pineapple bowl to make it, not only delectable, but even more gorgeous to look at! The slightly tangy and sweet taste of the fresh pineapple is so enticing and the combination of spices just takes it up a notch. Not only that, it is so much cheaper and healthier than take-out fried rice.

Feel free to get creative and use your favourite kind of protein in this dish, i.e. ham, chicken, pork, or prawns. You may even keep it vegetarian with just the pineapple or bulk it up with tofu! Of course, don’t forget to switch out the fish sauce with salt if you’re going vegetarian with the dish. The version that I will be sharing with you guys tonight is pescatarian-friendly. It’s a true crowd-pleaser and is sure to be a hit at the table.

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked rice (preferably several days old)
  • 1 fresh, almost ripe pineapple (see method below on how to prepare)
  • 250g prawns, shelled with the tails left on and deveined
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables (green peas, carrots, and corn kernels, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews or peanuts
  • 1 sprig afro parsley

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp Thai curry powder (or regular yellow curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar

METHOD

  1. Preparing the Pineapple: Cut the pineapple lengthwise, crown included.
  2. Take one half of the pineapple and run a sharp knife around the border of the pineapple. Make sure to leave a couple of centimeteres from the edge for a firm border.
  3. Slice the pineapple into large cubes and then carve out the flesh. Repeat for the other half of the pineapple.
  4. Cut the carved out pineapple cubed into smaller bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. Dry out the carved out pineapple bowls in the oven at 160C (320F or gas mark 2) for about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Fried Rice: If using old rice, oil your fingers with about a tablespoon of cooking oil and work your way through the rice with you hands. Separate any chunks back into grains and then set aside.
  7. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the curry powder and sugar, and then set aside.
  8. Heat a wok or a large frying pan over medium high. Add about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and swirl around. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the sliced chillies and diced onions. Cook for a further minute.
  9. Add in the prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink and plump, about 2 to 3 minutes. Push the ingredients to the side of the wok/pan and then pour in the lightly beaten egg. Quickly stir the egg to cook (like scrambled eggs).
  10. Now add in the rice, pineapple chunks, and thawed mixed vegetables. Drizzle the sauce mixture over the rice and gently stir-fry to combine all the ingredients together. You want to be able to hear the rice “dance” (make popping sounds) as it fries for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  11. As it cooks, taste and adjust the flavours to you liking, i.e. if it needs more salt, add more fish sauce. Towards the end of the cooking time, add in the roasted cashews or peanuts.
  12. Remove from the heat and serve into your prepared pineapple bowls. Top with the prawns, fresh chillies, and afro parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

So yes, here’s the important update/notice I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m going to be taking a month off from Amcarmen’s Kitchen to plan better content for the upcoming months ahead. It has been quite a hectic month for me, as we’ll be moving houses this week. Thus, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and plan out dishes in advance for the month of May. Having said that, once we’ve settled into the new house by the end of the week, I can assure you that I will head straight back into planning and will be back again in June!

For now, TTFN – ta ta for now!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2017: Jialing Mew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Happy Guestember everyone! I’ll be taking over Amcarmen’s kitchen this week, for my third guest appearance. Having lived in Sydney for the past few years, I’ve crossed paths with several people, all with different lifestyles, backgrounds, and interests. Amidst the social and cultural melting pot, I’ve found that food is always a common talking point and a great way to bring people together. And what’s better than food that can be enjoyed by all? I’ve certainly managed to surpass my own expectations this year – not only does my recipe use multiple ingredients from Allison’s high-blood-pressure-lowering list, but it is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and… vegan! (Read about last year’s vegan recipe struggle here MATE YOU GOTTA LINK THIS PART WHERE IT SAYS HERE TO THE RECIPE FROM LAST YEAR PLZ CUZ I DONT KNOW HOW TO DO EET AND ALL THIS TEXT IN RED PLZ REMOVE FROM POST TENKS. Yes, 2017 Jialing can laugh about it now).

[I’m sorry Jialing, I had to share the text in red for the blogging world to see because it’s just too funny!] – Ally xx

Inspired by seasonal ingredients in my kitchen, staples in my pantry, and great people in my life, this dish is something that I hope everyone can enjoy. True to my appetite, my recipe makes a LOT, so it’s best made in the largest pot or pan you can scrounge up, then shared with a small army. Or simply halve the first lot of ingredients for a more regular quantity. Enjoy!

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-50 MINS | SERVES 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g scrubbed potatoes, cubed
  • 500g split lentils
  • 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can (400g) white beans, drained
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp hot curry powder (use mild if less heat is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  •  (optional)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • A small handful of dried curry leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, for slurry
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • Lemon and coriander, to garnish

METHOD

  1. In your very large pot over high heat, fry onion in oil until browned. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add ginger paste and tomatoes, stirring until tomatoes are soft and start to break down (being careful not to let the garlic burn).
  2. Add curry powder, coriander powder, and chill powder if desired, stirring briefly for a few seconds.
  3. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and lentils, increase heat to high, and add enough water to the pan to cover the potatoes and lentils. Keep covered until the water boils.
  4. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and add lemon wedges, stirring occasionally and topping up water until lentils and potatoes are all cooked through (may take roughly half an hour). Be sure to leave enough liquid to just cover the lentils.
  5. Add curry leaves, then salt and pepper, adjusting to your taste (I usually end up adding about 1 tbsp of salt). At this point, make the optional slurry with cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water, and add to the pan to thicken the gravy.
  6. Add drained white beans to pan, stirring until heated through. Take your pan off the heat.
  7. Toss in the kale, stirring through gently until evenly distributed. Be careful not to spill, as I always do…
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and lemon. Serve hot with basmati rice or flat bread, chutney or fresh yogurt, or even on its own. Enjoy with friends or family 🙂

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Recipe Copyright © 2017 | jialingmew

BON APPÉTIT

– xx Jialing

myTaste.com