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Fish Amok

For many visitors the classic mild curried fish known as amok is Cambodia's signature dish

Fish Amok – a lovely mild fish and coconut curry, fragrant, zesty and full of flavour.

An easy version which can be cooked using ingredients many of us will have already, without the need for specialist shops.  Made it, ate it and did the washing up in less than an hour and there’s spare curry paste in the fridge for another day.

Fish Amok

Serves 2

200-300g firm white fish fillet skinned and boned (go to for a list of sustainable fish in season).  Apparently, Mekong catfish is traditional, I used cod
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil
400 ml coconut milk (don’t use the “light” ones – not creamy enough)
1 handful coriander, Thai basil, basil or mint leaves (or a mix), chopped

Yellow kroeung (curry paste- (the below will make too much but you can store it in the fridge for a couple of days or, it freezes well)

2 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves discarded and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf (or substitute the zest of one lime)
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp  fish sauce
1/4 tsp palm sugar (or maple syrup, if you don’t have these, ¼ tsp brown sugar will do)
1 large red chill, sliced (reserve a few slices for the decoration

1.   Blend the paste ingredients until smooth. Add a tablespoon of water if it isn’t blending well.

2.   Cut the fish into 2cm pieces.

3.   Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add half the paste and fry for 1-minute stirring.  Add the coconut milk and stir.  Don’t boil it, but when it is simmering, continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes.   Place the fish in the pan and continue to let it simmer for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish until it is cooked.

4.  Traditionally served in coconuts or bowls made of banana leaves but in the absence of these, a bowl does very nicely. Put the fish in the bowls, pour over the sauce and sprinkle the herbs and chilli over the top.

Serve with rice on the side.

Fish Amok as made traditionally by Khmer cooks can be eaten on All Points East Cambodia Tours. Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey has an excellent recipe for Fish Amok, but my guess is it won’t be cooked and washed up in an hour.