Referring to the Southeast Asia cuisine, surely Thailand and Vietnam will be two names most mentioned. As for Cambodian cuisine, tourists often do not notice, but if once tasted, you must have been impressed by unique flavors of this country. Fortunately, when traveling Cambodia 2 years ago, I ever had chance to enjoy Amok, a dish has full combination among all own flavors of Cambodia.
The Amok is considered as the essence of Cambodian style. This is a dish which combines the full of own flavors of this land: sweetness from jaggery, fatty sweetness of coconut water, gently faint smell of Prohok sauce, mingled with characteristic flavor of banana leaves. All are characterized Khmer, enchant both the natives and the tourists have once tasted.
In Cambodia, Amok chicken is also known as soup, is an orthodox Amok dish. Ingredients for Amok chicken consist of chicken breasts, coconut and Khuong, an unique spices in Cambodia’s kitchen. Khuong is made from forest lemon which has scabrous bark and is very fragrant and Ngai Bun tuber, galangal, turmeric, onion, garlic, minced lemon grass. Khuong makes flavor of Amok become more unique, attractive and unforgettable after tasting in the first time. Chicken breast is marinated with Khuong, cooked with tender coconut meat, folium sauropi and coconut water. All make a really attractive dish. Tasty chicken with Khuong flavor; fatty, sweet broth with pieces of flexible young coconut is very delicious.
This rustic dish has picky decoration: it is not contained in the bowl, but in coconut. This presentation causes a pleasurable feeling for visitors to enjoy, it makes you feel like received the gifts of nature. When you enjoy this dish, you must eat each piece slowly to the melting taste in your mouth. By this way, you will fully feel the great, quintessential combination between chicken and coconut.
Amok steamed fish is pickier than Amok chicken. It requires a lot of materials such as fillet fish (or catfish), Khuong, coconut milk, duck eggs, jaggery, a little Prohok sauce and folium sauropi.
Khuong, Prohok sauce, sugar and egg are mixed into a mixture, and cooked. Fillet fish pieces are wrapped in this mixture, added a few folium sauropi leaves, and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. When serving, the dish will have fragrant smell of coconut and banana leaves. Surely, Amok fish will be attractive tourists with both smell and flavor: fleshy of fish and duck egg, the scent and fat of coconut, sweetness of jaggery and slightly acrid flavor of folium sauropi leaves.
In cool rainy afternoon, enjoying a plate of Amok steamed fish with sticky rice and soy sauce, adding a cup of palm wine with sweet ginger flavor, diners will be “fascinated” by Cambodian food.