I visited Cambodia in Feb of 2014 for three days and on my last day in Cambodia, I took a Khmer cooking class in Siem Reap with Alex, my newly formed Swiss friend from the Intrepid tour I was on.
We purchased dried fish, some fresh spices and vegetables and toured the extensive market.
AnnAdyA is a nice and casual restaurant set in the middle of the noisy city and surprisingly, it is very cool and peaceful inside. A true oasis after our ride in the tuk tuks earlier on the dusty and pot hole laden roads in the city.
We were greeted with a sweet cocktail before we began our class. We then don our official attire consisting of hats and aprons. I think we looked more goofy than professional but we must have been somewhat impressive because a Brazilian diner who was at the restaurant asked to take our photo!
We prepared the following dishes:
- Green mango salad with smoke fish or Neorm Svye Kchey
- Cambodian chicken curry or chicken Amok
- Banana sago in coconut milk dessert or Chek Khtis
All the recipes are included below. It is a hands on class.
The chef first demonstrated the proper techniques which we were expected to somewhat replicate! We prepped the vegetables and fruits for the green mango salad and I thought I was a good cook until Alex exhibited his superior knife skills. Show off! 😉
Thanks mostly to Alex, we completed the much dicing and slicing in a reasonable time period and assembled the green mango salad. Do you know how tough it is to julienne mangoes so that they look presentable? We ate each dish after preparing it.
The fish sauce gave the salad a sweet and sour taste. The dried fish was used to salt the dish and definitely made it quite pungent.
We pounded the garlic,onions and other spices for the chicken curry in a mortar and pestle. This formed a paste which would usually take an hour to prepare but thankfully there was a spice paste which had been prepped earlier in a food processor. Isn’t modern convenience great?
We cooked the chicken curry under the supervision of the restaurant chef and it is delicious. It is fragrant, sweet and very flavorful thanks to the fresh spices. You can really taste the fresh galangal (Asian ginger). Did you know that there are multiple types of ginger?
Banana Sago Dessert
Lastly, we prepared the quick and easy banana sago dessert. It smelled wonderful because of the fresh coconut milk and I loved the way the sago pearls popped in your mouth as you chewed. Sago is a starch which is extracted from palm stems. You can substitute tapioca for sago.
I was very fortunate to make such good friends from the 3 day tour I was on. I got to experience the fun night life, some fabulous food and cocktails (!) in the trendy Pub Street thanks to Emily, Simon and Alex.
I got to do the cooking class thanks to Alex who agreed to participate when he found out that you need a minimum of 2 persons to do the class. The cooking class was a terrific experience and I learned some really useful tips and techniques about Khmer and Asian cooking. A great way to end my extraordinary trip to Cambodia.
There are lots of restaurants and resorts that offer Khmer cooking classes at very reasonable rates around Siem Reap. I enjoyed the one I took at the AnnAdyA Restaurant.
The chef was skilled, informative, helpful and patient. The staff was friendly, the venue so restful and the whole experience was delicious and fantastic. The cooking class cost US$23 per person and the US dollar is the preferred currency in Cambodia.For more information on cooking classes please contact: AnnAdyA Restaurant, No. 50 (old sok san), Siem Reap 855, Cambodia. +855 95 799 007 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Mango salad with smoked fish
- Mango 1 pc- julienned
- Smoked fish 100g
- Carrot 1 small -julienned
- Garlic, shallot 1 clove each-sliced
- Onion 1 small-sliced
- Sweet basil 20g -only leaves
- Long parsley 20g-only leaves
- Roasted peanuts 2 T-for garnish
- Khmer dressing 4 T (palm sugar, garlic, shallot, coriander, fish sauce, lime juice, seasoning, Red Chili)
To make dressing: Blend 2 cloves garlic, 1 clove shallot, 3 bunches of coriander, 1/2 red chili with seeds in a blender. Add 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t chicken powder, 1 T fish sauce, and lime juice to taste. Add 2 T sugar to 2 T boiling water or use equal proportions to taste. Combine sugar water with above ingredients to form dressing. Pour dressing over salad and garnish with roasted peanuts.
Cambodian Chicken Curry or Chicken Amok
- Chicken thigh 200g-cut into medium slices
- Sweet potato 30g-cubed
- Long eggplant 30g-cubed
- Round eggplant 10g
- Garlic, shallot 1 clove each
- Lime leaf 3 pieces
- Cinnamon stick, star anise 1.5 cm each
- Coconut cream 5T
- Chili oil 2T
- Khmer paste (2 lemongrass, 2 garlic, 2 shallot, 3-4 lime leaf, 10g galangal, 2 dried chili and 10g yellow tumeric)-in blender
- Seasoning to taste (1t salt, 2t sugar and 2& 1/2 t chicken powder)
- Cooking oil 2T
- Heat cooking and chili oil together. Add 5T khmer paste, garlic, shallot, lime leaf, star anise, cinnamon stick. Stir and let simmer for about 2 minutes until past is frangrant.
- Add chicken, sweet potato, eggplant, round eggplant, 3 T water or chicken stock and 3 T fish sauce.
- Simmer for about 10 min until chicken is tender. Add coconut cream and season to taste.
- Add chili oil for garnish and serve hot with steamed rice.
Banana Sago in Coconut Milk
- Banana 1 -cubed
- Sago Seeds 100 g-soak in water
- Coconut Cream 10T
- Salt to taste
- White Sugar 50 g
- Water 0.5 L
- Boil water.
- Add sago, banana, sugar and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Switch off heat. Add coconut cream. Top with additional sugar if desired. Serve hot or cold.