Lessons, Recipes and Photography From a Cambodian Cookery Course

Kampot Market

Back in August 2011 Stu and I went on a cookery course in Kampot, during our month long trip through Cambodia. As keen cooks and food lovers we couldn’t wait to try our hands at a new cuisine.

Previously we went on a great tour to the Bokor Hill Station with ‘Smile Tours’ and got to know the guide Jok quite well. He invited us for a few glasses of his home-made palm wine with his friends. It would of been rude to turn down such an invite!

We then organised the cookery course through him as he showed us such warm hospitality and we got along so well.

Jok showing me a white aubergine

Our day started with Jok taking us round Kampot Market to buy all the interesting ingredients.

Kampot Market

The market was full of fruits and vegetables I never knew existed and a few added horror sights through the live animal section!

Edible water lilies at Kampot Market

Even though we were making vegetarian options, we couldn’t seem to avoid seeing peeled pig faces and live chickens almost dead as they pecked each other on the floor. As a vegan and animal lover this was hard to see! 🙁

Our workspace

The cookery class took place in their family home which also doubled up as a shop front.

Me in my apron

Ooo suits you Sir!

Apron on, check. Hands washed in lemon water, check. Elvis Presley booming through the speakers, check. Shot of home-made palm wine, check!

Right, lets begin!

Menu of the Day

  • Cambodian Green Curry
  • Amok Tofu Curry
  • Green Mango and Onion Salad
  • Vegetarian Spring Rolls
  • Banana Tapioca Sweet Pudding

Me mashing things up

Look at the size of that clever!

Chopping off those mushrooms!

Tastes like a refreshing Caipirinha cocktail!

I feel that part of the enjoyment in learning how to cook is in the preparation! The Head Chef was Jok’s wife who only spoke a little bit of English, but we got along just fine.

I especially enjoyed grating taro for the spring rolls and after soaking it in water, squeezing all the juice out!

With the left over green mango and a pinch of salt, Jok’s wife created a taste which resembled a refreshing Caipirinha cocktail. It was magic!

Preparing the green mango and onion salad

We used some strange ingredients like sour tiny aubergine balls, tart green mango and the bizarre root vegetable taro.

Cooking the green curry

Spring rolls ready to cook

Making the spring rolls was great fun! Neither of us had ever made them before so we were interested to find out how it’s done. Jok’s wife showed us two clever ways of preparing them:

Vegetarian Spring Rolls Method – What you need and how to do it!

  • You’ll need square sheets of spring roll rice paper and grated taro/carrot mixture for the filling.
  • To make Traditional Oblong Shape Spring Rolls: Put a small bit of the taro/carrot mixture at one side of a square piece of rice paper. Then fold in the two sides and roll it up.
  • To make Spring Roll Parcels: Put a pinch of the mixture in the centre of a square sheet and gather up the sides, twisting it round to secure.
  • Fry the spring rolls in a lot of vegetable oil. When cooked, drain the oil and allow to cool.
  • Serve with sweet chilli dip. Yum!

Freshly cooked spring rolls

Jok’s daughter helping herself to the spring rolls!

Jok’s children were there during all the food preparation and couldn’t wait to try the tasty creations we cooked up!

Dinner is served!

Green mango and onion salad

Green curry

Taking a cookery course is definitely something I would recommend if you like cooking or eating! Who doesn’t?! It was a really fun day and we had a great time with the whole family.

I would have to say my favourite dish we made was the Amok Tofu Curry. This traditional Cambodian meal is usually made with chicken or fish instead of tofu. To make this tasty curry either follow the recipe below or click here to see the original recipe print out.

For the Green Mango and Onion Salad and the Banana Tapioca Sweet Pudding, click here to see the recipe.

Amok Tofu Curry

2 Sticks of lemon grass
1 Piece of turmeric (about 3cm/1inch)
1 Piece of yellow ginger
3 Garlic cloves
50g Dried red chillies

200g Tofu (can be substituted for fish or chicken)
200ml Coconut milk
1tblsp Sugar
3 Kaffir lime leaves
50ml Cooking oil
1 Coconut, peeled and emptied

If you are not making a vegan version you can also add:
½tblsp Shrimp paste
1tblsp Fish sauce

To make the paste:

  • First place the dried red chillies in a bowl of water and leave to soak.
  • Slice the lemon grass as thinly as possible.
  • Put the lemon grass, turmeric, garlic and ginger into a pestle and mortar and crush and grind all the ingredients together.
  • De-seed the chillies and add to the pestle and mortar. Mix all together until it becomes a paste.

To make the curry

  • Cut the tofu into big chunks and fry in oil. When it starts to crisp and turn brown, take out the pan and drain.
  • Heat a pan and add the oil.
  • When hot add the paste and mix with the coconut milk, saving some for garnish.
  • Mix altogether allowing the milk to turn red. Add the sugar and if you’re using the fish sauce and shrimp paste add now and stir.
  • Add the cooked tofu and stir.
  • When all mixed together and the liquid begins to thicken, turn off the heat.
  • Finely slice the Kaffir lime leaf and use with the left over coconut milk to garnish the finished Amok
  • Serve with rice.

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