Saturday, July 6, 2013

Angkor Wat and curry!

I recently traveled to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see the magnificent Angkor Wat sunrise. It was beautiful and was most definitely picturesque.

Other than visiting Wats or temples around Siem Reap and partying at night in Pub Street, there really isn't much to do in Siem Reap; that's why my friend recommended me to attend a Khmer cooking class at the Tigre de Papier.  It is a restaurant cum cooking school for tourists.

You can check out their website to check their schedules of classes.  I also wanted to meet other travelers so I called beforehand to find out and make sure there were classes.  The meeting place for the class is at the restaurant, just make sure to talk to the waitresses and tell them you're there for the cooking class.  It is a bit inconspicuous so I really had to make sure they don't leave me out.  

I arrived there and talked to the other people who were going to take the class too; and while we were waiting for others, we were asked to look at the menu and choose whatever we wanted to cook.  It's cool because they don't dictate what recipes to teach you.

I chose chicken curry and spring roll.  I did not enjoy the spring roll so much but was amazed to learn how to make my own curry which I am going to share with you.

To make curry paste, you will need the ff:  
This recipe is good for 1-2 servings.

Initially I thought it would be hard for me to find tumeric, lemon grass and lime leaves; but lemon grass and tumeric were readily available in the market; while lime leaves are a bit of a challenge.  I did find it in more high-end groceries like S&R (chiller, by the lettuces, Salad Time brand in a resealable plastic bag, fresh) and Rustan's Supermarket in the condiments section (pepper corns, etc.) Thai Kitchen brand comes in a jar, dried.  Dried lime leaves are also sold everywhere in Cambodia for USD1 a pack, which is very cheap compared to getting them here.  For the dired lime leaf, you will need to soak it in hot water for about 15 minutes until it "un-dries"; chop everything finely.

Put everything EXCEPT onion into the mortar and pestle and start pounding until you see it turn into a sort of paste, then add the onion, and pound again.

*Warning: be careful of Tumeric, omg, its the agent that makes curry yellow and it will stain your clothes permanently and your hands for at least 24 hours.  Also stains your braces rubber into a permanent neon yellow.

For the stew itself you will need the ff, the amount is up to you, just keep in mind that this recipe is good for 1 or 2 persons:

a few pieces of chicken, it can be (4 pcs) wings, or 2 deboned thigh part, or white meat if you prefer, cut into pieces

  • sweet potato (yes! more delicious than potato we are used to in Filipino cooking)
  • carrots
  • string beans, sitaw
  • eggplant
  • bell pepper
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • water
First, boil half a can of coconut milk, then put in the paste.  When it boils, put in the beans, sweet potato, and carrots in, because they take longest to cook.  This wasn't taught in class, but I find putting extra dried lime leaf brings in more flavor.  When they simmer for about 5 min, you will notice the sauce is now thicker, so put in some water.  Let it come to a boil again, put the fire in medium low then put in the bell pepper and eggplants. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes, then put in your chicken.  I personally feel that it's weird to just put in raw chicken into the sauce, maybe since I am used to Chinese cooking, I felt more comfortable stir frying it separately until half cooked, then put it in the sauce.  Simmer for another 15-20 min until the meat is cooked.

You can, for sure, replace chicken with beef or fish, just adjust the cooking time :)  Then voila, serve over hot rice!

It was so good!