Posts Tagged ‘Cambodian Cuisine’

Oh, yes!  This is one Cambodian (Khmer) sauce you won’t be able to live without.  I kid you not!!!  I love a great, flaky white fish, broiled and placed on top of a bed of aromatic Jasmine rice.  Here is the best part, I don’t dip… I pour a line of Ginger sauce down the middle of it all, sit back in the silence broken only by the melody of the aromas and delicately roll my meal in my mouth–bite per bite.  Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.khatiya-korner.com/images/food/fishsauce_dipping.jpg


Ginger Fish Dipping Sauce


1-3 hot chili peppers, finely minced.  Remember, heat is optional!  Use none or a little or all three.  It is up to you. 

2  1/2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh ginger, finely grated

1/4 cup raw cane sugar, powdered

1/4 cup fish sauce (make your own or commercial is fine)

1/4 cup hot water

2 fresh limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup fresh lime juice)


Place all ingredients in a small, glass sauce pan.  I ALWAYS let this recipe sit in the fridge for 24 hours before using.  I remove it from the fridge and heat it gently and serve.  You may be asking why I use a glass sauce pan.  Well, it is simply this:  lime juice and ginger can be quite acidic and I never place acidic elements (tomato, lime, lemon, etc.) in a metal pan.  Believe it or not the metal can be corroded quickly and spoil the fresh taste of whatever you are cooking!

Hope all of you have enjoyed a brief visit to Khmer cooking.  I just want to tease you all a bit with what will be coming soon…..MOTHER SAUCES.   With a limited number of base sauces you can create endless and wondrous sauces for any and every dish.  It’s time to get creative with Mother Sauces.  And, a big thank you to the wonderful reader who recommended lessons on Mother Sauces two months ago.  Finally, I can meet your desires.  Stay tuned……..




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If you remember, and I barely do, that our last post dealt with an incredible Khmer curry paste recipe, then you will also remember my promise to post an incredible Khmer Curried Chicken recipe.  Well, there it is.  You’ll want to make sure your spice paste mix is ready to go.  Just check my last couple of posts and follow the directions and your paste will be ready.  I must say this chicken recipe is so delicious that you’ll want to place a table outside in the evening, light many candles or hanging lights in the bushes and trees around you and place a delicate and soft Cambodian CD on the stereo and relax and take your time to enjoy your company and your food.  Linger, talk softy, chew as long as you can and just let your palate and your olfactory sensors baste in the pleasure of this incredible dish from a beautiful and incredible country.

Khmer Curried Chicken (Using Khmer Curry Paste)


3 tablespoons Unflavored oil (corn or vegetable oil will work fine here) 

1 pound chicken breasts (cut in 1/4 slices).  The easiest way to do this is place the chicken in the freezer until it begins to freeze.  When it is lightly firm, remove it and it should slice in a lovely way)

1-2 tablespoons unprocessed, cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 carrot sliced extremely thin (I use a slicer to ensure overall slice thinness)

1 potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium onion (sliced very thin)

1 cup unseasoned chicken broth (freshly made)

Salt to taste

5 cups teamed rice

4 saffron strands

1/16 teaspoon turmeric powder


Place enough rice and water in a steamer to make 5 cups.  Add 4 saffron strands and 1/16 turmeric tsp. turmeric powder.  Turn on steamer and let rice cook.

Heat oil in a wok until hot.  Fry , stirring constantly, 2 Tablespoons of Khmer Curry Paste for one minute.  Add sliced chicken breast.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Turn down to medium heat.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well.  Cook chicken until done.  Toss in vegetables   and stir.  Stir gently for another minute and then add 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt to taste and fresh chicken broth.  Heat through.

Serve over the steamed rice and truly enjoy.

As a note I would like to add that some folks do like more curry paste in their recipe.  If you find you would enjoy more paste, add more the next time.  This is a better strategy that adding much too much spice early on and ruining a recipe.  On that note…………………………………………drift way to Cambodia.


Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.images-photography-pictures.net/Angkor-Wat-Cambodia-sunset-zrim.jpg

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Photo Courtesy of:  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3508/3832870548_46043bcc4c.jpg

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.ediblelandscaping.com/Plants/PlantImages/kaffir%20lime%20DSC_0624.jpg


Yes, I know I have been tardy in my posting.  But, my return from vacation was met with a huge water leak in a wall line and a wonderful visit from my cousin from Italy and his lovely significant other.  What a great way to spend my time–with the relatives, not the leak and subsequent clean-up.  So, on with our travels and spice/herb education.  I promised Cambodian or Khmer spices and herbs and here they are!

1.  Kaffir Lime.  The lime is small, very green, and has a bumpy skin.  When Kaffir Lime is used in Khmer cooking it is only the rind of the fruit that is used.  The leaves of the Kaffir Lime tree are used as well and are called Makrud.  The leaves give your dish a definite citrus flavor!  You will find kaffir Lime leaves used in many South East Asian dishes.

2. Rice-paddy Herb.  This herb has a very lemony flavor with plenty of plucky tang.  It is most often used in fish and seafood dishes.  I have seen it used in salads as well.

3.  Galangal.  Many people mistake Galangal as ginger and it is from the same family.  But, its flavor leaves a peppery, lemony taste on the tongue.  After a few moments, I could swear I get a hint of pine pitch.  Sigh.  Just remember that Galangal is not ginger!

4.  Taro Root.  Taro is a tuber (root) that is very starchy and tastes like a potato with some lingering nutty after-notes.  Taro is often used as a staple and a major benefit is that its starch has a definite purple color.  When you see purple”ish” ice-creams and desserts in Cambodia, they are often colored with Taro starch.

5.  Asian Coriander.   Believe it or not, Asian Coriander is not related to the Coriander we normally know.  It is from an entirely different family, but its flavor is like a stronger Coriander.

6.  Water Spinach.  Water Spinach grows in wet-lands and often the stems are picked just like asparagus.  Also the tender roots are eaten as well.  The taste of this relative to morning-glory is just like Spinach and it is frequently eaten in Khmer cooking.

7.  Turmeric.  Turmeric, or as it is known in Khmer, Kunyit, if most often used freshly grated from the root.  Turmeric is used for color and to add flavor and aroma to curry dishes.  Americans are most often used to powdered Turmeric, which, depending on its age, truly lacks the beautiful color and aroma of freshly grated Turmeric.

8.  Star Anise.  Star Anise, as we have learned, tastes and smells of licorice.  Anise is used to flavor baked goods as well as savory dishes.  When I lived in Viet Nam it was common for locals to chew the Anise seed as a breath freshener.

9.  Jicama Root.  Jicama Root has become increasingly popular in America and can be found in most large grocery stores.  It tastes like a cross between a potato, an apple, and a turnip.  I love eating raw root as it is quite sweet and crunchy.  In Asian cultures Jicama is often substituted for water chestnut in stir fries.

10.  Cilantro.  As we discussed in an earlier post, Coriander and Cilantro are one and the same!  The leaf portion of the plant is Cilantro and the seed portion is Coriander.  

11.  Tamarind.  The Tamarind pod has a fruit whose pulp is, generally speaking,  sweet.  Thai Tamarind is quite sour, as are its leaves, both of which are often used in soups and stew-like dishes.

12.  Finger Root.  This root is considered a relative of ginger root, but is much milder in flavor.  Interestingly enough, I have heard it argued that Finger Root is not related to ginger at all.  Who knows!  Finger Root is softer than ginger root and the skin is removed and the internal meat is julienned.  You can rest assured that Finger Root will be found in most Cambodian curries.

13.  Sweet Basil.   As discussed in a previous post, Basil is a member of the mint family and is widely used throughout World cooking.  However, I am told that the Thai variety has a subtle taste of licorice.  I have never tried Thai Sweet Basil myself.

14.  Lemon grass.  Cambodian cuisine, and East Asian cuisine, widely uses Lemon grass herb.  I personally do not like the flavor of Lemon grass as I find it reminds me of citronella candles and even a tiny bit too much leaves a chemical taste on my tongue.  But, I must be in the minority on this as Lemon grass is a popular herb and the main flavoring in “Kroeung”, a popular Cambodian curry paste.

15.  Angkeadei in Khmer or Sesbania Grandiflora in its scientific terminology is a bitter herb not used much outside Cambodian cuisine.  We can say that Cambodian cuisine accepts bitterness in its cuisine as a sought after flavor.  Both flowers and leaves are used in cooking.

16.  Mreah or Bitter Melon.  This plant’s leaf is often used to attain a bitter note in certain Cambodian dishes.

Well, this has been a bit longer than I anticipated.  I’ll let you all catch your breath, get on your computers and browse on-line East Asian groceries for Khmer spices and herbs.  Later, you can fall asleep to the dreams of tropical jungles, foods of incredible color, friendly local peoples, and aromas drifting past on moist, warm breezes.

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