I’ve been to a cookery class. A local hotel runs half-day classes which start with a visit to the market with the chef.
She bought some of the ingredients for the meal we were going to cook.
These are banana flowers, used to make a salad.
No part of the animal goes to waste – vegetarians, please look away now –
and I always thought pigs’ tails were curly – these look disturbingly like fingers.
With no refrigeration, flies are a problem and so the stall holders wave a bag on a stick around in a desultory way, trying to shoo them off the meat – but with a million flies and one bag, it’s not very effective.
What I thought was a washing up bowl –
– turned out to be a nifty device for shredding coconut.
You bring your coconut to the market and this smiley lady will crack it and grate it for you, whizzing it round and round on the protuberance in the middle of the bowl. She’ll also soak it to make your coconut cream, or you can take the grated flesh home and do it yourself.
Shopping done, we went back to the hotel to cook lunch.
First we had to remove all the baby bananas from the banana flower, as we only wanted the leaves.
Then we assembled the ingredients for the banana flower, chicken and shrimp salad.
and for the fish and coconut curry
and then we chopped, sliced, peeled, grated and pounded.
This is the Khmer curry paste made from lemon grass, galangal, fresh turmeric, garlic, shallots and kaffir lime leaves. My cooking partner and I had made a wimpish request for no chilli, otherwise it would have been much redder than this.
A chicken wandered through inquisitively as we were hard at work … she wouldn’t have done if she’d known what we were cooking.
The curry is called amok, and is one of the most famous Khmer dishes.
Here is the finished meal – the curry, the salad and a spectacular pyramid of rice.
Followed by sweet potato and coconut pudding.
We were very impressed with our meal – we’re either very talented Khmer cooks, or the chef did most of the work.
I have the recipes, a certificate rating my efforts as excellent and copious notes from the class – so you know what you’ll be getting for dinner the next time you come.