Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cambodia 2014: "Cooks in Tuk Tuks" Cooking Class

Cooks in Tuk Tuks

Cambodia cooking class! So, after our visit to Psar Leu market, we came back to The River Garden hotel for the cooking class portion of the day. We made a banana flower salad, chicken amok, and a dessert of sweet potato, sago and coconut milk. (You may remember this is the same dessert we had at Angkor Palm - yum!)

Ingredients for Banana Flower Salad

Ingredients for Amok

Ingredients for Sweet Potato, Sago & Coconut Milk

It was an interactive class, with lots of participation. We chopped...

Chopping chillies

... we pounded...
Pounding spices

... we sliced, we grated, we stirred, we cooked!

One interesting ingredient I wanted to tell you about was the banana flower, which was the basis of the salad we made. Here's what they look like at the market.

Banana flowers

Once you peel away the outer leaves / petals, you can see all these super-cool mini unripe bananas!

Banana flower

Our teacher told us that you can actually eat the unripe bananas, and they're a common Cambodian snack, served with thin slices of lime and a mixture of chilli, sugar and chicken stock powder. He made us some to try, which I thought was really cool. It was definitely an acquired taste - the unripe bananas were hard, unsweet, and very sappy - but I found the mixture of lime and dipping salt very addictive. (Yay for MSG!) I think the lime and dipping salt would be great with green papayas.

Baby bananas!

But back to the salad... to prepare the banana flower for the salad, you remove the tough outer leaves, the unripe bananas, and then finely shred the petals. I don't think you can buy banana flowers in Melbourne, and we were told that you can use Chinese cabbage as a substitute.

Banana flower

Banana flower salad ingredients

Banana flower salad and dressing

Banana flower salad

We also made chicken amok, pounding the spice paste from scratch. I know fish is traditional, but they kindly said we could do chicken, seeing as Sandra doesn't eat seafood. (According to the website, they can cater for vegetarians as long as you tell them when you book).

Cooking the chicken Amok

Finally, we made the sweet potato, coconut milk and sago dessert. The key ingredient is dark, rich palm sugar. 

Adding the palm sugar for the Sweet Potato, Sago and Coconut milk

And then it was time to eat! Everything was delicious - we were excellent students, obviously!

Lunch!

Lunch!

Sweet potato, sago and coconut milk

We got all the recipes given to us in a little booklet - I'm going to retry them at home, to make sure they work with local ingredients, before publishing them here. Look forward to it! Cambodian dinner party, anyone?

The Cooks in Tuk Tuks class cost $25USD per person at the time we visited, and included a market visit, the cooking class, lunch, and a booklet of recipes to take home. (Drinks purchased with lunch are charged on consumption). It was a really fun day, and it was great to get a little insight into local life and Khmer cuisine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cambodia 2014: Psar Leu Market, Siem Reap


Psar Leu Market

Back to the Cambodia posts! I've got another picture post for you today: our visit to the Psar Leu Market in Siem Reap. Psar Leu is a very big local food market, which we visited as part of the "Cooks in Tuk Tuks" cooking class. A guide from The River Garden Hotel took us to the market, showed us around and bought some ingredients and snacks, before taking us back to the hotel for the cooking class itself. At first I was planning to do just one post on the market tour and cooking class, but as I looked back through my photos, I saw that we got so many fantastic pictures at the market that I thought it deserved its own post! Of course, when I say that "we" got lots of great pictures, I mean that Sandra took all the photos whilst I wandered around gaping at all the fascinating stalls, dodging the motorbikes, and desperately trying not to look sweaty. (Spoiler alert: I failed - it was blisteringly hot!) I don't think that lots of tourists visit - in fact, our little group of four were the only tourists we saw all morning - but if you're a food lover, I'd highly recommend making a stop there! So much great food to see and eat, a wonderful bustling atmosphere - it's a real slice of local life.

Enjoy!

Psar Leu Market

Vegetables

Psar Leu Market

Psar Leu Market

Crowded!

Shellfish cooked in the sun

Chillies! Chilli sauce! Colours!

Pork

Fish

Chilli pastes

Dessert stand!

Grilled bananas

Tree ants

Fish!

Khmer sausages

Market stalls

Bananas!

Pretty fruit stalls

Pork!

Deep-fried banana goodness; Glutinous rice balls

I'm so glad we visited the market - it was such an enjoyable and fascinating morning! Next up: the cooking class!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prix Fixe: A Nutcracker's Christmas

Prix Fixe

Prix Fixe
Alfred Place
90 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Prix Fixe on Urbanspoon

Yup, another Prix Fixe dinner! This time, the theme was (and still is, until the end of December), "A Nutcracker's Christmas". Seeing as I've written about Prix Fixe twice before, I won't go into too much detail and I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Suffice it to say this menu was very impressive - the themed cocktails were fabulous, I truly enjoyed all four courses, and would highly recommend you squeeze in a visit before the end of the year. Bravo, Philippa!

Back: On Point - Plymouth gin, maple syrup, grapefruit, hopped grapefruit bitters & Prosecco - $20
Front: Fritz's Fumble - Zubrowka, St Germain elderflower, Yellow Chartreuse, white peach, lime & thyme - $20 

Bread

Oysters - $4 each

Summer borscht, crème fraiche, dill avruga caviar

The borscht was smooth and velvety, with the natural sweetness of the beetroot complimented by salty pops of caviar. The quenelle of crème fraiche ice-cream was a fun and sophisticated take on the usual dollop of crème fraiche or smetana.

Prawn cocktail Russian style – Crystal Bay prawns, melons, avocado and apple

When I think prawn cocktail, I think dinky little glasses filled with lettuce, prawns, and mayonnaise, and this version completely surpassed my expectations. I loved the crisp lettuce, the sweet pieces of melon and apple, the creamy avocado, the fresh prawns and the sharp horseradish sauce.

Porchetta rolled with apricots, hazelnuts and thyme

Cool sauerkraut

The pork was tender and flavourful, and the crackling appropriately crackly. This main course (rolled roast pork with crackling and a cabbage salad), is exactly the type of thing I'd love to serve at a dinner party.

Compote of cherries and raspberries, basil ice cream, meringue tutu, plum jam roly poly

The dessert was just stunning - a cherry and raspberry compote, plum jam roly poly, sweet basil ice-cream, dehydrated raspberry powder and crisp sticks of meringue. All the flavours and textures worked so well together - it was fabulous! I was particularly impressed by the basil ice-cream, with its beautiful jade colour, perfectly smooth texture and pure basil flavour.

Gingerbread hearts to finish

These cute little gingerbread hearts were brought out as an accompaniment with tea and coffee to round out the meal. Lovely!

Read about my previous experiences at Prix Fixe: