Cambodia’s Fish Amok is one of the most popular Khmer meals and shares curry similarities with neighboring Thailand. While its bright, fresh flavor profile and spice components have a likeness to the popular Thai Curry, the main differences are the steaming technique used to cook the fish and the creamy mousse like texture from the tempered egg. This cultural dish of Cambodia is classically cooked and served in a banana leaf, but I also ate it out of a hollowed-out coconut.
When my sweet friend Danielle recently wrote me this:
“Hey Girl! May I request a fish cooking blog? It’s COLD here… Usually I have a nice dose of sun and vitamin D via travel, but this year am especially stuck with dry heat and cotton mouth. I feel the need for omega 3’s but HATE the taste of fish. HALP!!
My initial thought was how do I disguise the taste of fish? Fish amok is a great way to incorporate fish into a diet, without it being too fishy is with coconut and curry. And with travel on hold, what better way to whisk my friend away from her snowy mountain weather than with a good tropical meal she can serve in a coconut and some pics of Cambodia to think of sunnier days.
While I would love to make each dish as authentic as possible, there are some recipes that are simply more inspired than replicated. This is one of them. I am not in a place to buy banana leaves or kaffir limes and we generally don’t keep fish sauce on hand, so I make do with what I have, substitute where I can, and have made several adjustments to improvise this delightful meal with easy to find, fresh ingredients and utilizing kitchen tools most people have.
This recipe for Cambodia’s Fish Amok makes 6 servings and even better cold the next day. The curry paste can be made, split, and frozen for another kitchen escape if you are cooking for one or two.
- Kroeung Paste – recipe below
- fish sauce (soy sauce and Worcester)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 20 oz white fish cubed
- large handful of mushrooms quartered
- 2 large handful of spinach
- 2 eggs
- 2 inches fresh galangal or ginger peeled
- 1 inch turmeric peeled
- 4 garlic cloves
- several red chilis (depends on spiciness of chillis)
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 2 kaffir lime juice (1 lemon)
- 10 kaffir lime leaves (I used a combo of 3 bay leaves and mint leaves)
- 1 tbsp sambal
- 1 small tsp brown sugar
- Mortar and pestle or blender
- small saucepan
- banana leaf boats ( or heatproof dish)
- steamer vessel
- Kroeung Paste: peel and roughly chop all ingredients.
- Blend until smooth-ish adding a dash of water if need be (there will still be fibers from the lemongrass and ginger).
- Amok: Boil water for steamer.
- Assemble your steamer- I used a ceramic dish over a wire rack in the closed pan, a bamboo steamer would also work.
- Line your vessel with spinach. This could be a heatproof dish, banana leaf boat, or empty coconut.
- In saucepan gently heat up Kroeung Paste, fish sauce, and coconut milk.
- When warm gently fold in mushrooms and fish and remove from heat.
- Spoon curry mix into spinach lined dishes reserving roughly 2-3 tbsp warm curry sauce in the pan.
- Cover and steam fish amok for roughly 6-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile it is cooking whisk two eggs and fold them into the 2 tbsp of warm sauce in saucepan.
- Open steamer and pour warmed whisked egg mixture into fish. Let cook uncovered for 2 minutes.
- Check fish- it will be opaque when cooked through.
- Garnish with julienned red pepper, cilantro or mint leaves, and coconut flakes.
- Serve with Basmati rice and you fav summery drink to keep the winter time blues away.