Cambodian Cooking Class – Fish Amok with Morning Glory
We’re back in Southeast Asia for this flashback post featuring a classic Cambodian dish I learned how to make on our honeymoon a few years back. Some of the best parts of our trip were the parts we didn’t plan in advance, and this cooking class was one of those things.
Loren and I spent a few days in Siem Reap, Cambodia mostly to see Angkor Wat and all the surrounding temples in the Angkor Archeological Park. We had our first Fish Amok with Morning Glory in a tiny open-air restaurant just outside the park, so I had a good idea of how my dish should turn out when I made it in class.
Our tour of Angkor was one full day of a 3 day visit, so we found ourselves winging it for our extra time in Cambodia. Of course, we got foot massages every day and spent some time by the pool enjoying cocktails and being silly, but we were thrilled to find a cooking class advertised in the window of a beautiful restaurant on the main drag in downtown Siem Reap.
Angkor Palm Cooking Class
Each of us in the intimate cooking class was able to select the dish we wanted to make from a list of menu items. I chose Fish Amok with Morning Glory, Loren chose Sour Soup with Chicken, and we all agreed that the Tapioca and Banana dessert would finish off our meals nicely.
We were presented with photo copies of hand-written recipes and guided through the process by the Head Chef of Angkor Palm Restaurant. Today I’m sharing the Fish Amok with Morning Glory recipe, which I love because it’s an authentic regional food chalk full of vegetables (a feature sometimes hard to find in places where rice is the main staple food). It was so fun to see all the beautiful fresh ingredients and learn from someone who had probably been making this dish his entire life.
- Chinese cabbage (6 leaves, thinly sliced)
- Oyster mushrooms (6 to 8 torn into small pieces)
- Large handful spinach (or noni leaves if you can find them) sliced thin
- 1 lb catfish cut into 1.5 inch chunks
- 8 tbs coconut oil
- 6 tbs curry paste*
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp chicken stock
- 2 tsp palm sugar
- 4 tsp fish sauce
- 6 ladles of water
- Heat a large skillet and add oil and curry paste
- Stir until the curry becomes aromatic then add in the coconut milk, 3 ladles of water, and the fish
- Cook 5-7 minutes
- Add remaining vegetables and cook about 3 more minutes
- Add the rest of the ingredients including 3 more ladles of water
- Stir another minute and turn off fire (make sure the fish is cooked through)
- *curry paste can either be purchased or made from scratch. Unless you're really ambitious, I recommend simply purchasing a Thai curry paste at your local Whole Foods or Asian super market. It will be the closest to making it yourself. If you would like to make it yourself, the ingredients are (all fresh): galangal, turmeric, yellow ginger, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and lemongrass, blended and refrigerated.
Morning Glory (aka Water Spinach)
And now for the morning glory recipe. You might be asking yourself what morning glory is. It’s a beautiful leafy green veggie pretty similar to spinach. If you’ve had sautéed leafy greens at a Cambodian, Vietnamese, or Thai restaurant, it very well might have been morning glory. It’s also called water spinach if you’ve ever seen that on the menu at your favorite Asian restaurant. I love it because it holds up in cooking but still has a delicate grassy flavor completely absent of bitterness. It has fibrous, hollow stems, and this recipe calls for them to be cut and then either smashed with a mallet or crunched in your hands before preparing.
- 1 large bunch morning glory, chopped and smashed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp palm sugar
- 2 tbs oyster sauce
- 2 ladles water
- 4 tbs coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- Heat a large pan, then add the oil and garlic
- Stir until golden and add morning glory and water
- Cook 1 minute and add remaining seasoning
- This dish can be enjoyed with a number of main courses with an Asian flare.