Fish Amok is a signature dish of Cambodian cuisine, known for its rich flavors and unique cooking method. It is a steamed fish curry that is traditionally prepared and served in banana leaves, which impart a distinct aroma and flavor to the dish.
Originating in Cambodia, Fish Amok has deep cultural roots and is considered a national dish. It is often enjoyed during special occasions and festivals, showcasing the country’s culinary heritage.
To make Fish Amok, a flavorful curry paste is first created by grinding together a combination of ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, and chili peppers. This paste is then combined with coconut milk, fish sauce, and other aromatic spices to form a creamy and fragrant base for the curry.
The fish, typically a white fish like snapper or catfish, is cut into fillets and gently steamed in the banana leaf cups along with the curry mixture. This cooking method allows the fish to absorb the flavors of the curry while remaining tender and moist.
For the Fish Amok curry paste:
Prepare the Fish Amok curry paste: In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine all the curry paste ingredients and grind or process until a smooth paste is formed.
Begin by heating the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the Fish Amok curry paste and cook until fragrant for a few minutes. Stir well to combine the curry paste with the coconut milk. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar, stirring continuously until the palm sugar has dissolved.
Add the fish fillets to the skillet and gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and tender. Stir occasionally to ensure the fish is evenly coated with the curry sauce.
While the fish is cooking, prepare the banana leaves or aluminum foil for wrapping. Cut them into squares or rectangles, large enough to enclose the fish fillets.
After the fish is cooked, take it off the heat. Take a piece of banana leaf or aluminum foil and place a portion of the fish and curry sauce in the center. Fold the edges of the leaf or foil to form a secure parcel.
Steam the wrapped fish parcels in a steamer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the flavors meld together and the fish is infused with the aromatic curry.
Carefully remove the fish parcels from the steamer. Open the parcels and sprinkle with thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve the Fish Amok with steamed rice and enjoy the flavors of this traditional Cambodian delicacy.
Note: The recipe can be adjusted to personal preferences by adding vegetables such as sliced bell peppers, green beans, or spinach to the curry. Additionally, the curry paste can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Enjoy the delicious and aromatic Fish Amok!
The resulting dish is a harmonious blend of flavors, with the richness of the coconut milk, the aromatic spices, and the delicate taste of the fish. It is often garnished with kaffir lime leaves and served with steamed rice, creating a complete and satisfying meal.
Fish Amok is not only a culinary delight but also offers health benefits. The dish is rich in protein from the fish and provides essential nutrients from the aromatic herbs and spices used in the curry paste. Coconut milk, a key ingredient, adds a creamy texture and also provides healthy fats.
When it comes to finding the best Fish Amok, authentic Cambodian restaurants or street food vendors are the go-to places. These establishments often have chefs skilled in preparing traditional Cambodian dishes, ensuring an authentic and flavorful experience.
Whether you’re an adventurous foodie or a lover of Asian cuisine, trying Fish Amok offers a unique taste of Cambodia’s culinary traditions. Its blend of flavors, use of aromatic ingredients, and delightful presentation make it a standout dish worth savoring.