How to Make Cha Kroeung (Stir-Fried Lemongrass Paste)

Cambodian cuisine is a delightful blend of bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and aromatic spices. One dish that perfectly embodies these characteristics is Cha Kroeung, a traditional stir-fry made with a fragrant lemongrass paste. This dish is versatile and can be made with either chicken or beef, offering a taste that is both exotic and comforting.

In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process of making Cha Kroeung at home. Whether you can find fresh lemongrass or need to use some readily available substitutes, you'll be able to recreate this Cambodian favorite with ease. Let's dive into the recipe!

Ingredients

For the Kroeung Paste (choose one option):

  • Option 1: With Lemongrass
    • 2 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • Option 2: Without Lemongrass
    • Zest of 2 lemons (the outermost layer of the lemon peel, finely grated)
    • 2 inches of fresh ginger (about 5 cm, peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 red chilies (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 500 grams of chicken breast or beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Paste: In a food processor, combine your chosen ingredient for the paste base:
    • If using lemongrass: add the finely chopped lemongrass.
    • If using substitutes: add the lemon zest (the outermost layer of the lemon peel, finely grated) and ginger (about 5 cm or 2 inches, peeled and roughly chopped).
    Add the garlic, shallots, red chilies, turmeric powder, and fish sauce. Blend until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Cook the Paste: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add the paste and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to release the flavors.
  3. Add the Meat: Add the chicken or beef pieces to the pan and stir-fry until they are cooked through and nicely coated with the paste.
  4. Add Vegetables: Add the red bell pepper and green beans. Stir-fry for another 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still vibrant.
  5. Serve: Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.
Emil Moe

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