Traditional Cambodian Dish: Chicken Amok

Introduction

Cambodian cuisine is rich with flavors and history, offering a tantalizing experience for your taste buds. Today, we're diving into the heart of Cambodian cooking with a beloved dish called Chicken Amok. This dish is known for its creamy, fragrant, and mildly spicy curry made with tender chicken pieces. Let's bring a piece of Cambodia to your kitchen with this easy-to-follow recipe.

Ingredients

Before we start, gather these ingredients:

For the Amok Paste:

  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 red chilies (adjust to taste)
  • 1-inch piece of fresh galangal or ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

For the Curry:

  • 500 grams of chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Preparation

Making the Amok Paste

  1. Blend the Paste: Combine the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, red chilies, galangal (or ginger), turmeric powder, and shrimp paste in a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth paste. This is the heart of your Amok curry, packed with vibrant flavors.

Cooking the Curry

  1. Cook the Paste: In a large pan, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add the Amok paste and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This helps release the aromatic flavors.
  2. Add Chicken: Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook until they are no longer pink on the outside.
  3. Simmer with Coconut Milk: Pour in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Stir well to combine. Let the curry simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, allowing the chicken to cook through and absorb the flavors.
  4. Add Vegetables: Stir in the kaffir lime leaves, baby spinach, and red bell pepper. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still vibrant in color.

Serving

  1. Garnish and Serve: Once the curry is ready, garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice or sticky rice for an authentic Cambodian experience.

Tips for a Perfect Chicken Amok

  • Balance the Flavors: Cambodian cuisine is all about balance. Taste your curry as you go and adjust the fish sauce, sugar, and chili to get the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and spicy.
  • Fresh Ingredients: While some ingredients like shrimp paste are optional, using fresh lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves will significantly enhance the flavor of your dish.
Emil Moe

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