Iâ€™ve been having an argument with a few other Khmer cuisine aficionados that â€œRoyal Khmer Cuisineâ€ never existed before the 1950s and was an elaborate confection of the post-colonisation royalty both as a response to Royal Thai cuisine and Franceâ€™s desire for Cambodiaâ€™s cultural history to mirror its own.
Iâ€™ll happily admit that Iâ€™m wrong and I am being too much of a smartarse about food and culture.
In part because I recently received a copy of The Cambodian Cookbook of HRH Princess Rasmi Sobhana from reader Jo, originally sold in the 1950s â€œfor the benefit of the Cambodian Red Cross by the American Womenâ€™s Club of Cambodiaâ€. It is packed full of recipes for Royal Cuisine, which as far as I can analyse, means that everything contains either three different meats at the same time or veal.
The amok recipe for a â€œpork amokâ€ is particularly intriguing involving chicken, pork and a pound of crab. The spices are inconsistent with my scant knowledge of amok because I suspect that the ingredients were both Westernised in the translation and by HRH Sobhanaâ€™s royal upbringing. Lining the cups with basil is certainly a response to the difficulty of finding slok ngor leaf outside Cambodia, and I suspect that by â€œcitronellaâ€ they mean â€œlemongrassâ€ and â€œcitronâ€ to be substituted by kaffir lime. I have not cooked this amok and will leave to your discretion as to whether it is a futile waste of crab or not.
HRH Princess Rasmi Sobhanaâ€™s Amok Chrouk
10 Â½ oz pork
10 Â½ oz chicken
5 large pimentos
2 T. shelled garlic
2 T. shallots
1 t. romdeng
2 T. chopped citronella
2 t. fennel roots
Â½ t. zest of citron
Pound the condiments to a paste. Chop fine the pork and chicken. Boil 1 lb of crab and add to the chopped pork and chicken. Add a beaten egg, several T. of coconut milk, salt, pepper, sugar, nguoc-mam. Put into molds or cups, the bottom of which are covered in basil leaves. Cook in a double boiler. Garnish the top with fennel or parsley leaves, and chopped red pimentos.