I invited Tin and some of his family round for dinner after we got back to Siem Reap. Another challenge. To make food that Cambodians like that isn’t Cambodian. Of course I carefully picked dishes that I’d never cooked before. Isn’t that something one shouldn’t do with new dinner guests?
Tuek Trey Koh Kong Fried Baby Squid
Lemongrass Fried Crispy Prawns
Sayur Masak Lemak
Soya Sesame Chicken in Banana Leaves
And of course I had raw vegetables and mustard green leaves to eat with the dipping sauces. If all else failed, my guests would definitely eat this as this is staple food for the Khmer. I really miss all the fresh greens and veggies everyday.
The Lemongrass Fried Crispy Prawns dish and the Sayur Masak Lemak I won’t be posting as recipes because I didn’t write them down and really don’t remember the details. The Sayur Masak Lemak wasn’t great anyway. I put way too much shrimp paste in and the whole dish tasted like…well shrimp paste! It was also the only dish that was hardly touched. Everything else never saw the light of day again.
Sayur Masak Lemak is a simple Malaysian vegetable dish. The recipe can be googled. Sounds a bit rude doesn’t it? Here’s the name of the dish-google it if you want to cook it…..! I could shorten my blog to a few words…..ending in google it..?? Heh heh-naaah!!
The hit of the day was definitely The Soya Sesame Chicken in Banana Leaves. It was fiddly, messy and time consuming to make. But Oh My God, was it worth it! In fact it is still my number 1 favourite new dish that I have cooked since starting this blog.
Here are some random pics from the day. I love these pictures. Some became more grainy after compressing.
This one is my favourite!
Here are pics of the kitchen. Paradise. Just like in Bangladesh there are a lot of hands at work. I got told off by the girls for not cutting the spring onions thin enough. Of course everyone was smiling. I surprised them with my knowledge of the Cambodian names of most of the ingredients they were using. It was such a pleasant atmosphere. They were all so warm hearted and welcoming. Everyone was doing something. Huge bowls used as woks balanced on cut out drums on a log fire cooking Baw Baw which is rice porridge in Cambodian. This rice porridge has a lot of ingredients and is absolutely delicious. I’ll post a recipe for one my partner made in the coming weeks.
Last year a friend of mine, Tin sadly saw his Grandfather pass away. Three months after the cremation they do prayers with bhuddist monks and have a family get together over a whole day. This was near Battambang which is 170km from Siem Reap.
The following posts are the pictures of this. To start with – The Journey!!
Mangoes are an essential part of any Asians diet. Purely for the delicate deliciousness of the sweet sensual juices that blast me into ecstasy every time!!
They are a mutli-talent of a fruit. Starting with the ripe fruit which can be peeled and ate with your bare hands whilst the juices run down your elbows and not giving a shit because it’s just so delicious!! The unripe fruit is eaten all over Asia with a salt and chilli mixture. Unripe they are an ideal ingredient for many sour dishes. Sour mango fish curry in bangladesh is a delicacy. The ripe fruits can be squeezed out and the juice dried out over days and days under the baking Bangladeshi sun to make mango leather (‘soti’ in Bengali). Another of those sweet sour treats we’d eagerly await as kids when someone we knew was coming back from Bangladesh. Then there are the chutnis (‘satni’ in Bengali) and of course one of my favourite mango asar (‘amor asar’ in Bengali). I’m not sure of the name for this in English. Sour unripe baby mangoes before they develop a hard seed are cut up and dried and prepared with oil, spices and vinegar. They are then put in jars and left in the sun again. An arduous processing taking over a week. But the end result is well worth it!! And last but not least is ‘ami’. These are small strips of unripe mangoes whilst they are still small, extremely sour and very aromatic, dried in the sun over days and days. They are then stored and last for over a year to be used as the sour ingredient for many sour fish curry dishes from Bangladesh. You can even make a sour fish curry dish from the flowers of the mango tree when it first blooms!! I ate this for the first time last year whilst I was there. YUMMY!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Luckily in London you can get Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes. Their sweetness is worlds apart from the huge tasteless mangoes imported from Brazil you get in the supermarkets in London and Berlin. Absolutely no offense meant. I’ve never been to South America and I’m sure they keep the delicious ones for themselves!! Berlin is such a sad case as these are the only mangoes you can get unless you know which time of year to go to the Indian or Asian food stores. European summertime is when the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes ripen and are available in (obviously) the Bengali, Indian or Pakistani groceries dotted all over east London.
Now back to Cambodia. Here you seem to get mangoes all year round (bliss 🙂 )!! Ripe and delicious and sweet. Here are some pics of the varieties I’ve tried so far.
Svai Lahuat in Khmer. Sweet and bright orange inside. They seem to available all year round here in Cambodia!
BELOW: Svai porm on the left, svai lahuat in the middle and svai Thai on the right. The sweetest is the svai Thai. Svai porm is by far the most aromatic but also fibrous. Svai lahuat varies from very sweet to sometimes not so sweet. The svai porm I’ve never seen in the market. I nicked this one from someones tree. 🙂
A few posts ago I mentioned that something dramatic happened that left me shocked for a few days. One day I will find the event hilarious but that moment hasn’t come yet!
The title says it all or?? If that doesn’t get you to read my blog then I don’t know what will. Oh yeah, there is the food I discover, the dishes I make and the ingredients I try out and write about…!! 🙂
I met this Canadian guy in Bangkok at the guest house I was staying in and we got on so I told him to visit me when he came to Siem Reap, so he did. We’ve become friends and when we went out one night here in Siem Reap he picked up this girl. I mentioned to him that she is a ‘working girl’! Meaning she is a prostitute and you’ll probably have to pay her to go home with her. I know because I’ve seen her many times and she lives on my block on my floor a few doors away. Basically he spent a few days with her but found the relationship difficult and decided to stop seeing her.
She came up to me one night when I went out to one of the clubs here and basically blamed me that it hadn’t worked out between her and him! I’d been drinking and obviously so had she. After I refused to take responsibility for her personal inadequacy for holding down a relationship (I’m no expert on this matter either) she threw a glass of beer all over me and became abusive. That followed with a jug of beer leaving me soaking wet and lots of swearing from both sides. The security came and led her away.
I left the club 15 minutes later with my close friend S. (not the Canadian friend). She came up to me outside and whacked me with her handbag and was still shouting and swearing. Her temporary white boyfriend stepped in but didn’t have the balls to stop her although it was obvious she was in the wrong. So I dropped the matter and started walking home. Suddenly I got smacked on the back of the head by something extremely hard. I turned around and caught a glimpse of what had hit me.
Here’s an amazing looking fruit that I picked up on the Thai side of the Poipet border coming back from Bangkok. They are the size of cherries and taste nothing like them. In fact cherries taste mush better (if they’re not pumped full of chemicals) in my opinion. But these look just astounding!!
They are called Sa’ree in Khmer. Haven’t a clue in English. They are juicy with a bit of crunch, have a hint of sweet and a hint of sour. I ate them with the traditional salt and chilli mix you get with all sour fruits here. In fact I was rather disappointed with the taste. I expected something much more spectacular because of it’s beauty!!
So, my blogging posts have become sparse whilst my life hasn’t really become busier, but my mind is somewhat pre-occupied with the events of my life. And there is one shocking event from the past week that has left me almost speechless and very angry. I will write a post about this in the near future once I have digested this real life happening! – Click here to read more as I’ve posted about this event now!!
Now back to the my beloved fruits of Asia!! I’m not a fan of custard because we were forced to eat it in primary school (in London of course-for those of you who haven’t read the ‘about me’ section of my blog, I didn’t grow up in Bangladesh!) And I eat the occasional apple but also a pretty boring fruit in my world. So how about the custard apple (thee’up in Khmer). Nothing like custard or apples (haha!) It looks very similar to a cherimoya (and tastes the same to my taste buds) that I’ve ate many times back in Europe. I’ve just done some online research and they are from the same family. Some say they are the same fruit with a different name but the cherimoya has different skin to the custard apple from my experience. A cherimoya has skin that surrounds the flesh in one piece. When you cut it the skin stays in one piece. This description may be a bit strange but I don’t know how else to word it. The custard apple has skin that is thick and comes off in segments. You can see the segments in the pictures below. The taste is extremely sweet and the texture creamy and slightly grainy. I love this fruit. Easy to eat-meaning easy to peel with your bare hands and actually quite filling as a fruit. The fruit flesh comes in segments too surrounding a hard black seed. They are the size of a medium sized apple.
You can see below the the skin and fruit flesh segments coming apart with ease!!