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Running Amok in Cambodia

Jeowly good pickings

LAOS | Tuesday, 10 March 2015 | Views [376]

Cambodian Laos feast

Cambodian Laos feast

Sabadi (Hello). This is a sneaky little post script to my scholarship entry...I had techi issues (I'm over 18), panicked and thought I was going to miss the deadline so sadly rushed it in.  The plan was to give recipes for the entire feast, not just the Amok.  Here goes.  

Technically speaking, the dishes do not go together as the Amok is Cambodian and the jeow and sticky rice are from Laos.  However, as the competition is about travel stories and our memories and therfore our stories have medled and become one, I thought it apt to combine the dishes.    

In far Northern Laos, we trekked into a hilltribe village and spent the night in Poh's home. We were welcomed with open arms and a chicken was bought and bled in our honour.  I'm not sharing that recipe.

My 15 year old daughter had brought the UNO cards and after a few rounds of show and tell, half the village was playing UNO like pros.  Such a fabulous way to overcome the language barrier.  I spent some highly valued time in the kitchen with Poh, pounding the jeow and steaming the sticky rice, both of us smiling enthusiastically at each other.  I was in heaven.

The delicious eggplant jeow we ate, was made by roasting the vegetabels over hot coals, removing the balckened skins and then pounding them in a timber mortar.  They do not waste a single scrap of food so there was no removing of chilli seeds - this dip was spicy hot.

The dinner we shared that night with our wonderful hosts was chicken stew, eggplant jeow and sticky rice.

Eggplant Jeow and sticky rice

Ingredients

serves 4 as part of a complete meal 

Eggplant Jeow

2 small Asian eggplants or 

1 x 500g aubergine

2 small cloves garlic, skin on

1 long red chilli

1/4 teaspoon fish sauce

Green part 1 small spring onion

1/2 cup chopped coriander leaf & stems

 

Sticky rice

300g Glutinous rice

Water

steamer

 

For the eggplant jeow

  1. Line gas hob with foil so that you do not make too much mess in the cooking process.
  2. Pierce the eggplants all over and spear lengthways with a skewer. 
  3. Turn the gas to medium and balance aubergine on the hob over a wire rack. 
  4. Spear the chilli & garlic - place over the hob.
  5. When skin blackens, turn slowly.  Repeat until all blackened. Remove from hob & allow to cool.
  6. Meanwhile chop coriander and spring onions.
  7. Pound chilli, salt & garlic in a mortar & pestle.
  8. Add eggplant & coriander and pound until consistency resembles a soft paste.
  9. Add fish sauce and spring onions.  Pound gently.
  10. Adjust to taste.

 

Method 

For the sticky rice

  1. Rinse the rice 2 or 3 times in cold water and then soak for 4 - 10 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse 3 times again under cold water.
  3. Place rice in a steaming basket. The Laos bamboo steaming basket is called a huat khao but you can also use a flat Chinese bamboo steamer lined with muslin or a clean chux.
  4. Steam 20 minutes on medium heat.  Do not let water evaporate.  Toss rice (if using the huat  khao) so that the rice that was on the bottom is on the top.
  5. Steam a further 5 - 6 minutes.  When ready, the rice should be soft and sticky but not mushy.
  6. For this step, you can use a large bowl, benchtop or as my friends in Laos did, a recycled cement bag made from woven polypropolene - food safe? most likely not! 
  7. Choose your vessel and transfer your rice to it. Using a flat wooden spoon, spread the rice gently and then fold the rice back onto itself.   The aim is to cool it a little so that it does not become too mushy as it continues to cook with residual heat.
  8. Repeat for a few minutes then place rice in sticky rice baskets (Lao aep khao - bamboo.) Alternatively, place in a thermoserver or banana leaf lined bowl. Top with banana leaf.

 

To serve

There are no courses in Laos dining.  It is very rare to entertain and imbibe in a decadent intake of food.  Sticky rice is a staple in the country and in the Mhoung and Khmu villages where it is eaten with every meal.  Indeed in some instances it is the meal, accompanied by a meagre serve of jeow or sauce.  When dining out, all dishes are brought to the table at once.

 

 

Tags: 2015 passport & plate: sri lanka, village trekking laos

 

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