Sunday, 8 May 2011
Fish Amok Recipe - Cambodia (Gordon's Great Escapes)
A new series of Gordon's Great Escapes hosted by Gordon Ramsay starts tonight (Monday 9 May) on Channel 4.
In the last series, Ramsay explored India, but this time round he's taking on four countries. The focus is South East Asia, and so he's travelling to Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand to taste and to have a go at cooking the local cuisines.
I'm delighted to say that some of my own recipes are being featured on the Channel 4 website which accompanies Ramsay's new series.
Gordon's first stop is Cambodia, so here's my recipe for Amok Trei or Fish Amok - a Cambodian aka Khmer fish curry.
Amok is a coconut curry steamed gently in banana leaves (the Thais call their version "haw mok") and is considered by many to be the national dish of Cambodia. It's usually made with fish, but chicken, tofu and even snails are also used as the main protein.
The curry base of amok is a deeply fragrant paste known as kroeung, and it comprises a mix of fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime zest and leaves, galangal, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallots, and dried red chillies pounded or blitzed together.
To this base is added coconut milk, eggs, sugar, fish sauce and prahok, a fish paste which is as integral to Cambodian cuisine as ngapi is to Burmese food. As prahok is a little hard to come by in the UK, shrimp paste eg belacan is okay as a substitute. Chunks of meaty white fish are then folded into this sauce and then the whole lot is steamed in banana leaf bowls.
Strictly speaking, an amok curry should also contain young, bitter morinda or nhor leaves (you could use a little holy basil or Swiss chard) as well as a rhizome called fingerroot - I've used ginger instead. As for the kaffir lime zest used in the kroeung, a fantastic substitute is the zest of the citron fruit which you can occasionally find in Indian shops, such as the little grocer on Drummond Street in London.
The crispy fried fish skin which you scatter on top is my own little twist to add textural variation - think fish scratchings.
The main thing to note is that an amok is meant to be slightly set (think chawan mushi) so you scoop soft spoonfuls of the luscious curry onto your rice as you eat.
My Fish Amok Recipe on Channel 4 Food
Gordon Ramsay's Great Escapes - Cambodia
Monday 9 May on Channel 4 at 9 pm