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Peter Green

Cambodian/Khmer Cooking

102 posts in this topic

Groan...looks like I'll have to buy Joannes Riviere - Cambodian Cooking. The last dish with the green peppercorns just did me in. :wacko:

I can almost taste that burst of pepper and basil. This dish has all my favourite ingredients and aromas.

I wonder if Rona knows where I can buy green peppercorns in Winnipeg... :hmmm:

Keep 'em coming, Peter. It's always great to have your pictorials to go along with the cookbook.

I also saw Elephant Walk in Amazon.ca. Whoa! Expensive!


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Groan...looks like I'll have to buy Joannes Riviere -  Cambodian Cooking. The last dish with the green peppercorns just did me in. :wacko:

I can almost taste that burst of pepper and basil. This dish has all my favourite ingredients and aromas.

I wonder if Rona knows where I can buy green peppercorns in Winnipeg... :hmmm:

Keep 'em coming, Peter. It's always great to have your pictorials to go along with the cookbook.

I also saw Elephant Walk in Amazon.ca. Whoa! Expensive!

Thanks, Dejah.

But I've probably only got one more Khmer meal in my kitchen for the next little while.

I have to start packing.

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Khmer Curry

"Curry is a traditional Cambodian dish served on every important ceremonial occasion."

Keying on how important this dish is to Khmer customs, I made a botch of it.

Well, it's not so much a botch as I was missing some ingredients, and went at it anyways.

The first bit of business was to prepare the paste. I had my stash of Kroeung now, so that part was wasy. The rest was a matter of roasting star anise and coriander seeds, smashing them down, adding some dried chilis that had been soaking, smashing them down, add some shrimp paste and smash that down, and then add in a bunch of the Khmer curry paste and...well, you've got the pattern by now.

Next, the actual cooking.

My first foul was in not having any annatto seeds, a natural red food colouring. Our housekeeper usually has this around, as the Filipinos use this for the colour as well.

So, no red colour. I'll live.

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Next, we fried the fish and then set it aside to drain. Then fry the spice paste to a brown, and add kaffir lime leaves, carrots, onion fish sauce, and sugar.

I should also have added sweet potato at this time, as the Khmer curry is "distinct in Asia for their use of sweet potatoes".

That cooks to soften for 10 minutes, and then the fish, green beans, and eggplant go in and take another 5 minutes.

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After that, two cups of coconut milk, bring it to a boil, and serve it.

The flavour is oily sweet, and very good with the rice. You can smell the anise and kaffir lime leaves in there.

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But it does come across as too salty, the effect of the fish sauce. If I'd had the potato in there, I suspect that would have tempered things somewhat.

I need to try this again with all the proper ingredients. As a curry, there's nothing to complain about here, the overall effect being much more Indian to me than South East Asian.

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Okay, I lied. I had two meals left in me.

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It was another group feed last night, and I used the opportunity to take a second look at what I'd been playing with. However, going slightly off topic, Yoonhi did have me stray from a purely Khmer theme.

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First up was a pomelo and prawn salad. Very similar to a Thai yam som o, but specifically lacking the chili peppers in the dressing. Otherwise it was cooked prawns, shredded pomelo, mint, lemon grass, coriander, cucumbers for crunch, and some spring onions and shallots. The dressing was lime, nampla, and palm sugar. As Joannes says, "an elegant citrus and shrimp salad".

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I strayed way North for the meat dish, heading into China for fengmi niulijirou hetaoren - honey-glazed beef and walnuts. Off theme, but I'm going to be gone for awhile, and this is what Yoonhi wanted me to cook for her. Keep your wife happy, say I, and life will be good.

For this I dipped into my dwindling stock of Sichuan bean starch. That stuff has some form of papane in it that works marvels in tenderizing the meat in s a short time. The meat is marinated in soy, egg, water, starch, and five-spice powder, and left to sit for about 20 minutes. Then it's fried in oil, removed to drain, the walnuts are fried, and they're removed to drain, and then you wait until the last minute to reduce the sauce of honey, mirin, soy sauce, black vinegar, salt, and ginger juice (as a note, I find that using a cheese grater to rip up my ginger first makes the juicing dead easy).

As another note, it's interesting to compare the use of ginger as a flavour element in sauces and marinades against the Khmer attitude of treating it as a vegetable.

A little roasted sesame seed on top, and this was very, very good. The meat just melted on the tongue (I squirreled a little away on a separate plate for myself before I sent it out to the table).

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I revisited the sweet sour fish with green mango. A snapper would have worked better for the frying, but it wasn't available, so I went with grouper. I do like the meat on the grouper better, but it's a far thicker fish to be pre-frying. Still, this recipe will work, given that the fish is cooked twice - once fried, and the second time heating in the sauce. For the sauce, I increased the amount of sugar, and spent more time in getting a better caramel, gettting more stickiness out of it. I would go with this working over the lighter approach with the tilapia I'd done earlier (plus, how many tilapia would I have to do? One for each couple?).

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I didn't change too much on the chicken with dried chilies and cashews. As an aesthetic item, I added red bell peppers to the green, wanting a little more colour contrast in the dish. The other change was to quarter the eggplant. I like the flavour, and the texture of the skin, but there was too much skin when they were just cut in half-rounds. This way, quartered, the balance of flesh vs skin felt just right.

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We finished the main courses with a drift away from Khmer, to Thai, with a phad Thai. I've been playing lately with Import Thai's recipe. For this, the sauce of sugar, nam pla, tamarind, and sriracha is cooked ahead and held ready. The egg is scrambled and set aside, and the prawns are also fried and set aside. Shallots, pickled radish, and tofu are then fried in the walk, and the noodles come in shortly after, softening in the wok. Once they're settled, in goes the egg, prawns, some chives, and the bean sprouts. Serve with a sprinkle of peanuts and raw sprouts, and we have a good roll-off.

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Serena and I had been leering at the book's picture of coconut ice cream with caramelized bananas. The "ice cream" is neat, using coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and light cream, with only a couple of teaspoons of sugar. With the condensed milk, you don't need much else, I would think. A little light cream to round it off, a bit of a beating, and we'd put this into the ice cream attachment on the KitchenAide in the morning, and then left it in the freezer to set.

The caramelized bananas were a mash of bananas, salt, peanuts, and water which were boiled over medium heat. You just get it to caramelize, with a thick syrup, let it come off of the heat, and then plop it onto the ice cream.

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And, in Asia you finish with fruit, so our friends brought home made yogurt and some fresh strawberries and apples.

A successful meal. That means that no one had to be rushed to the hospital, there were no fights, and I have leftovers to eat for breakfast.

Now, I'd better start packing.

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That looks like a great "send-off" meal for Yoonhi before you left again :laugh:

The Sichuan bean starch - what is it made from? Is it available in North America? If not, I could get my students to find it for me when they go home to China during the term break. If you have a picture, that would be very helpful.

So, from where are we to expect the next feast-report?


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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The Sichuan bean starch - what is it made from? Is it available in North America? If not, I could get my students to find it for me when they go home to China during the term break. If you have a picture, that would be very helpful.

Dejah,

Here’s a shot of the package of starch I’ve been using.

gallery_22892_3828_46791.jpg

Good luck on finding it, and thanks. I’d been meaning to get a picture on file for some of my Chinese friends to see if they can replenish me.

(and if anyone out there knows a place in Vancouver with this, I'd love to know!)

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The pad thai looks strangely pale. How was it? I still like Pim's recipe on Chez Pim or the one on Thai Table.  Mostly nowadays I cheat and use the paste *hides* please don't tell my Aunties.

Yes, it's not the usual ruddy hue, but the flavour is quite good. I pick up more of the sriracha and the vinegar and soy. I may try doubling the volume of sauce, and playing with different brands of sriracha.

Of course, I'd need a kitchen for that.

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I am so hungry reading through this post. Cambodian cooking is something I have no experience with, but love to learn. Thanks for starting this thread. Now I need to go shopping!

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The Sichuan bean starch - what is it made from? Is it available in North America? If not, I could get my students to find it for me when they go home to China during the term break. If you have a picture, that would be very helpful.

Dejah,

Here’s a shot of the package of starch I’ve been using.

gallery_22892_3828_46791.jpg

Good luck on finding it, and thanks. I’d been meaning to get a picture on file for some of my Chinese friends to see if they can replenish me.

(and if anyone out there knows a place in Vancouver with this, I'd love to know!)

Thanks, Peter!

I tried to find a copy of Joannes Riviere - Cambodian Cooking at Barnes and Noble across the border this weekend, but will have to order it through Amazon. However, I did pick up Charmaine Solomon's The Complete Asian Cookbook, and it has a small section on Cambodia & Laos. That'll keep me reading for now. :smile:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I am a terrifically big fan of Solomon's book, but the Cambodian & Laotian sections are not very strong. I want that Riviere book!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I am a terrifically big fan of Solomon's book, but the Cambodian & Laotian sections are not very strong. I want that Riviere book!

amazon even has used copies!


The link "Cooking - Food - Recipes - Cookbook Collections" on my site contains my 1000+ cookbook collections, recipes, and other food information: http://dmreed.com

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I am a terrifically big fan of Solomon's book, but the Cambodian & Laotian sections are not very strong. I want that Riviere book!

Cambodian, Laotian -and let's throw in Korean and Filipino- cuisines are often neglected in 'Asian' cookbooks. It's a real pity actually; particularly with Korean since I have particular interest in the cuisine and I find it to be a real hidden treasure (in the way that it's not well appreciated) in the West.


Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

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Found a great store here in Providence that makes their own kroeung in little bags. I made an impromptu beef salad -- not quite luk lak -- with it the other day and it was excellent. I'm eager to return for the fresh turmeric that they always seem to have on their shelves.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Found a great store here in Providence that makes their own kroeung in little bags. I made an impromptu beef salad -- not quite luk lak -- with it the other day and it was excellent. I'm eager to return for the fresh turmeric that they always seem to have on their shelves.

Cool! In Providence, too!

Definitely buy some turmeric. Just get used to the idea that you're going to have yellow fingernails for the next few weeks. For some reason, he body just seems to force it out through my cuticles.

Will they let you take pictures in the store?

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Found a great store here in Providence that makes their own kroeung in little bags. I made an impromptu beef salad -- not quite luk lak -- with it the other day and it was excellent. I'm eager to return for the fresh turmeric that they always seem to have on their shelves.

Will they let you take pictures in the store?

I've been establishing a relationship with the owners for an article I'm working on, and I'm hoping to get snaps soon.

The excellent "South East Asian Food" by Rosemary Brissenden has a very good selection of Cambodian recipes.

Adam, what recipes are in that book?


Chris Amirault

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Let me know if you want an English description.

Sngo Chrouk Bangkang

Sngo Choeung Chamni Chroux

Samlaa M'Chou Moan

Chang Ploeung

Samlaa Kako

Samla Kaeng Phet

Ngiev Kroeung

Samlaa Sach Tia Nung Phile

Trey Chamhoy

Amok

Chion Trey Chab

Chion Trey I

Chion Trey II

Loclac

Chha Sakh Ko Kroeung

Chha Sakh Ko

Chha Sakh Ko Khatna

Chha Sakh Chrouk, Tauhou, Sandaek Bandoh

Chha Sakh Chrouk, Chamlok, Holantav

Chha Mii Su

Chha Dangkeab Kdam

Chha Tompang

Sakh Ko Changkak

Nheam Moan

Nheam Sakh Ko Salat

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I went back and took a another shot at the sweet and sour fish. I'm very fond of the use of green mango here for the sour part.

An import change I wanted to do was try using smaller fish. My frying of the large fish is....well....challenging for those who have to clean up after me. And the tilapia that have been available are extremely plump, lately.

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Another move was to add in some capsicum, both for colour and for a bit of crunch.

The result was good, and handy as this would allow me to have a separate fish for each guest.

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I'll have to go and look at some of the salads for this weekend. The watermelon is in season here!

(I should see if I can find a copy of the Brissenden book to leaf through. That's a good list of recipes, and I wonder what the other sections are like)

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My former landlady [from Cambodia] used to cook something she called an amok that was like Peter's and unlike the leaf-cup type I have cooked for my Lao boss in his restaurant [with dill, not lime leaf]. She used to make a huge bag of blackened red pepper flakes, minus the seeds, during the warm months. This she would use liberally during the middle to last stages, after adding the coconut milk.

So: oil, paste, fry, then stuff, then coconut milk, then a huge fistful of the blackened flakes [enough to turn things a murky grey], then cook some more.

Some northern Thai use blackened pepper whole pepper, either fire-roasted or fried until the skin is almost about to disintegrate, so do the Burmese, so do Indians, but never in such quantity that I know of, and never minus the seed (?). The flavor here is different from Chinese use of blackened pepper much like very dark Cajun roux is to the merely very brown.

Has anyone seen or tasted this flavor combination? BTW, landlady was extremely coy & secretive about her kroeung, so no luck there!! But really delicious.

any idea how she made the blackened red pepper flakes?


The link "Cooking - Food - Recipes - Cookbook Collections" on my site contains my 1000+ cookbook collections, recipes, and other food information: http://dmreed.com

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any idea how she made the blackened red pepper flakes?

I hope this is not a silly question - after blackening the pepper, do you think it is dried in the oven with the blackened skin on? I am asking because you said that the food would go a grey colour.

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I believe [not 100% certain] the longish, fairlry hot peppers, but NUMEX dry red may be used too, are stemmed & deseeded. They are then deep-fried in big batches in vegetable oil until past the mahogany stage. When taken out, drained & cooled, they will still be turning color, still cooking from the residual heat so this factor needs to be taken into account to judge the final "blackening" to be achieved.

Since the ribs [placenta] contain the active principle capsaicin, the fumes from frying even deseeded mild to medium hot pods are noxious. The lady did this outdoors in the summer!! She would make a huge bag, and crumble them like crushed corn flakes, to be stored in the freezer for the whole year.

The flavor principle of whole dry red peppers charred near-black is not unknown in India, but is used sparingly in ones and twos, and only as an adjunct or relish, never in handsful as a principle flavor. I was intrigued to learn that northern Burma ramps up the use of charred dry peppers, but still less than what I have seen with this particular Cambodian family. The quantity increases in parts of northern Thailand that share a link with Burma.

Cambodia is distant from this area, and I wonder if there is a Muslim link or some other cultural connection, or if this is a purely independent development. So far, I have been unable to extract any meaningful cultural information, because these people become very defensive and suspicious when their recipes and food secrets are probed. There is the language barrier, the unfortunate history of this region and a very characteristic Asian secretiveness [that I have found in Indian women as well] regarding recipes. Far better that recipes be lost than they be handed down to anyone, even to relatives (save direct descendants). Recipes will never be denied but neither accurately transmitted, seemingly minor but essential tips omitted.

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Thanks for the chili information, v. gautam. As you know, some Indian women share their recipes with abandon!

I wanted to document today's shop at Narin Market, on Potters Ave just east of Cranston Street. As you can see, it's sitting on the bottom of a typical, urban Rhode Island triple decker:

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I learned about this market from a friend who is married to a Khmer guy, and on this early Sunday morning it was bustling with folks filling their carts. I convinced Narin to let me take a few photographs (no people, of course) so that you could have a sense of the place.

Wide selection of meat, including a lot of pork cuts that are hard to find elsewhere

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Packaged and homemade roasted rice powder (they also make their own kroeung):

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Frozen foods, including pickled crab for som tam:

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Wide array of produce (as you will see, I got quite a few things):

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They were out of fresh turmeric, sadly; I've seen it there quite a few times. They did have purple water lily stems, which I left on the shelf bc I wasn't sure what to make with them:

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Big aisle with cooking equipment:

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Small selection of mortars:

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I made a note that this dried fish looked as good as the stuff I saw in northern Thailand:

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Lots of takeout available (I grabbed some lunch):

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I wasn't sure what these were.... Ideas?

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I've cleaned everything and am heading out for a few errands. Dinner is the grilled eggplant with pork, a mushroom & wing bean salad, shrimp with green pepper & cilantro, and who knows what else.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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3826949996_4d60d8304f.jpg

I think I've had these. Crispy rolls of flour (or rice flour?), sort of like an Indian dosa, but much smaller. One of those things you bite into with relish, and then you realize you're wearing 1/3 in the form of flakes on the front of your shirt.

Good market shots.

The blackened chili peppers is an interesting item. I wonder if arrived through Thailand, as the Cambodians were kept cut off from much of the early maritime trade of the Portugese (and their trade in firearms), and so weren't introduced to the chili pepper until much later.

And those dried fish are exactly what I was looking for to work up that watermelon salad recipe!

Cheers,

Peter

Note: edited a couple of times as I suffer from IMG dyslexia tonight.


Edited by Peter Green (log)

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