Today we decided to do a Khmer Cooking class run by a company called Beyond Unique Escapes. There are at least a half dozen cooking classes in the town (if not more), but we decided to choose this one because of its unique location in the Sojourn Hotel in a village just outside Siem Reap. We are so glad we went there. The class was fantastic, the location unique and we were also able to lounge around beside the pool before being treated to some amazing spa treatments for only $38!
Before starting the class, our hostess Ya, took us to a neighbour where we were introduced to the family and shown some of the local herbs, plants and vegetables. There were 2 houses on the property. The parents had 10 children, one of whom had her own family living there. The hotel had helped to fund a pump and purification filter for the family and for most of the village so that they would have clean drinking water.
The cooking class took place inside an airy pavilion, next to a lotus-filled pond. We made 3 dishes: Khmer Mango Salad (recipe to follow below), Fish Amok and Sticky Rice Flour Balls with Palm Sugar (I can't say I'm a big fan of Asian desserts and, unfortunately this also fell into this category but I'm glad I made it!).
KHMER MANGO SALAD
250g Chicken or Pork
400g Green Mango
150g Dry Shrimp (but we didn't use this in our class as it is quite pungent, so I guess this could be optional)
100g Peanuts (chopped and roasted)
2 tablespoons Palm Sugar (if unavailable, can substitute with Brown Sugar)
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 Lime (but I added a whole lime coz I love it!)
Step 1: Cook the meat and slice it - set aside to cool (the chicken was coated with some fresh peppercorn and had no skin)
Step 2: Grate the mango and carrots. Finely slice garlic and shallots. Vietnamese and Cambodians use these very useful hand-held graters that look a bit like potato peelers but actually grate instead of peel. You can buy them in the markets for a dollar but I guess you could find them in Asian specialty stores. They are amazing as they are extremely efficient and easy to use!
Step 3: Remove the seeds, flesh and pulp of tomato and discard. Slice the outside into thin slices.
Step 4: Mix the cooked/sliced meat with palm sugar, fish sauce, salt, garlic, shallots and dried shrimp (optional) in a bowl. Then put green mango and carrot and mix again. Taste it and check if it is sour enough, otherwise add some more lime juice.
Step 5: Serve on a plate, topped with basil and coriander and sprinkle roasted peanuts.
This salad is so delicious and refreshing, you're going to want more!