Running Amok…

Scent and taste. Two sensory experiences that evoke memories

A few nights ago I was searching for dinner ideas…I’d seen Anthony Bourdain’s 2010 No Reservations episode earlier in the day and it made me feel nostalgic (now worn as a badge of pride, I discovered that during my travels I unintentionally retraced every place he visited in that episode).

My favorite “pescatarian-friendly” meal was the Cambodian staple: Amok.
One of the most memorable days I spent in Cambodia was the day I took Frizz Cafe’s infamous cooking class and learned to perfect the recipe.

That being said, when I felt compelled to share a taste of Cambodia, I reached for the pamphlet cookbook I received from the cooking class and attempted to re-create Cambodia via a very tasty fish amok recipe for Don and I to share.

Between the cooking class and the recipe provided in the cookbook (and a few regional substitutions) – I have here the recipe for Cambodian Fish Amok:

There are two separate sauces, the first being Kroeung.

Ingredients (additional ingredients to follow) –

* 3-5 red chilies soaked, drained and crushed into paste (depending on your level of spice…i.e. 5 chillies is pretty darn hot)

* 3 cloves of garlic

* 2 tbsp of thai ginger, sliced thin

* 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemongrass, sliced thin

* 1 tsp sea salt

* zest of 1/4 lime rind

Instructions –

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a thick paste.

Next step:

*request that your husband/significant other/kitchen assistant procure a non-poisonous leaf from the farmers market/back-yard/community gardens/ neighbors lawn, in order to create banana leaf steam bowls (this is where the running amok comes in).


* clean the leaves and dip them in boiling water so they are soft and don’t crack when being shaped.

*Use a small dinner-plate to cut a circle (approximately 6″ across).

*Make a square in the middle of the circle, this will be the middle of the cup.

*Put a thumb on one right angle of the cup and pull up two sides. tucking the fold, and pinning together with your toothpick.

*Move the next to the right until you’ve formed a small bowl shape.

* take a few toothpicks and construct a small, cup-sized bowl.


And now for the messy part…

Ingredients –

* If available, but optional, 30g (1. oz) young nhor leaves

* 3 tbsp kaffir lime leaves

* 3 thinly chopped chile peppers (optional)

* 0.5-1lb meaty white fish

* 1/4 cup coconut oil

* 2 cups coconut milk

Additional steps –

* Slice the fish into 1″ cubes and set aside.

* Create a sauce with the additional ingredients and add fish.

* Distribute fish sauce amongst the 2 leaf-bowls until 3/4 full.

* Steam 15-20 min.

* Top with Kroeung sauce.

The finished product featuring our awkwardly posed/candid after shots…


Awkuhn Cambodia!


2 thoughts on “Running Amok…

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