Fish Amok: Cambodian Seafood Curry in Banana Leaf

Monday, 3 February 2014

I first tried fish amok three years ago when I visited Cambodia for the first time. It was at a restaurant called Malis located in the heart of Phnom Penh. Our tuk-tuk driver got so completely lost trying to find it and when we got out of the tuk-tuk, hot and sweaty and frustrated, and paid him probably way too much, we stepped into this little oasis with air conditioning and friendly, English speaking waitstaff who were so incredibly attentive, and $3 cocktails. The amok was so heavenly that I mentally bookmarked Malis as "The Amok Place" and promised to come back to Cambodia and eat there a million more times.

And I did come back. I've tried so many amoks from so many places but I think that Malis is still my favorite. I'm not sure what it is about it, but I haven't yet found another amok that is such a perfect blend of fragrant spices and fresh, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth fish packaged in a bundle of banana leaves. It's good.

Amok is basically a process of steaming or baking curried seafood (or chicken, or tofu, or vegetables, whatever you want, really) in a banana leaf parcel. When we were in Siem Reap last weekend, I attended a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier and finally learned how to make amok. Three years later. We didn't steam or bake the fish, unfortunately, but it was still delicious. This recipe fries the fish and curry, but when I get home I'm going to try to steam it. I imagine you would just coat the fish in the paste and steam it in the leaves. 

Fish Amok
Serves 2
  • 2 ngor leaves or broccoli leaves, sliced thinly (I have no idea what ngor leaves are, so just use broccoli leaves, or alternatively you can also substitute with spinach)
  • 1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
  • 100g oyster mushrooms, sliced thinly (again, any mushroom would work)
  • 300g fish, sliced thinly
  • 4 leaves of Swiss chard, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chicken salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Amok Paste:
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1 finger sized piece of turmeric
  • 1 finger sized piece of ginger
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic



Mortar and pestle.


Amok paste.

Heat a large pan and then pour in half of the the coconut milk. 

When the coconut milk starts to boil, add in the amok paste and onions and fry until the onions are soft. Add in the fish and fry on both sides.

Pour in the remaining coconut milk, and add in the leaves and mushrooms, continually stirring. Add sugar, fish sauce, and chicken to taste.

To serve, pour into your banana leaf bowls, and serve with rice.

Try it! It's delicious :)

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