Fish Amok

I'm back from the #PassportToAsia trip, an adventure that exceeded all expectations, with a hard-drive full of photos and a head full of ideas. Where to begin? After exploring Hong Kong and all of its surprises, I travelled to Siem Reap with a fantastic group of humans and very little knowledge of Cambodia. We were welcomed warmly by the Khmer folk. A few friends had told me that Cambodian cuisine was nothing special, but I refused to believe them, and boy am I glad I went in with an open mind! Khmer food has crossovers with Cambodia's neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, but I think it's subtler with less overpowering spices and heat, allowing the fresh ingredients to shine through. A typical meal consists of several sharing dishes, each featuring a different palette – sweet, salty, sour, bitter – with dipping sauces to enhance.

My favourite restaurants in Siem Reap was Khmer Kitchen, which is located a few minutes from the bustling Night Market. Here I had my first taste of amok curry, the country's most popular dish, which I instantly loved and couldn't wait to recreate as soon as I got home.

Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu
Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu
Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu
Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu

Here is my take on the amok! It is admittedly ingredient-heavy, but most are cupboard staples that I use often.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalks of lemongrass
3 Kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp chilli paste
2 shallots
Coconut oil
1 tbsp galangal paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp fish sauce
1 red chilli
400ml coconut milk
250g pollock
1 tbsp coconut cream
1 lime

Dry fry 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds for 1 minute until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and finely grind with a pestle. Add each of these ingredients one by one, grinding finely before adding the next – 2 cloves of garlic, 1 stalk of lemongrass, 3 Kaffir lime leaves, 1 tsp light brown sugar, 1 tsp shrimp paste and 1 tsp chilli paste.

Finely dice 2 shallots and fry in a wok with a little coconut oil until soft. Add the contents of the mortar along with 1 tbsp galangal paste, 1 tsp ground turmeric, ½ tsp fish sauce and 1 thinly sliced red chilli. Fry for 2 minutes, then pour in 400ml coconut milk and simmer gently with the lid on for 10 minutes. Cut 250g pollock into bite-size pieces, lower into the amok and poach for 3 minutes until cooked through. Turn off the heat.

Garnish the amok with 1 tbsp coconut cream, thin slices of red chilli and a lime wedge. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Fish Amok Recipe | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu
Fish Amok Recipe | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu
Fish Amok Recipe | Skillet & Shutterbug | Charlotte Hu