This fish amok recipe is one that I partly ripped off from Frizz Restaurant’s cooking class with a bit of modifying. Usually a small piece of grachai rhizome is added to the spice paste (kroeung), but I’ve left it out to keep things simple. I think you would struggle to find a canonical version of amok: practically every Khmer restaurant cooks a version of it with whatever they have on hand. To cook a fully vegetarian version, use tofu instead of fish, and leave out shrimp paste and fish sauce.
Normally fish amok is steamed in a coconut shell or banana leaf package, but when I’m cooking at home I can’t be bothered fooling around with it, and end up steaming it in a bowl in the steamer.
* 400 g meaty fish or firm tofu
* 1/2 cup coconut cream
* 2 cups coconut milk
* 1 tbsp fish sauce to taste
* 2 red chilies
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 tbsp galangal, cut small
* 3 tbsp lemon grass stalk
* zest of ¼ kaffir lime
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tbsp kapi (or any shrimp paste)
* 3 tbsp kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly
* 3 cayenne peppers or red capsicum
Make the kroeung by pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle, working from driest ingredient to wettest. Slice the fish thinly (or tofu into blocks) and set aside. Slice the kaffir lime leaves and cayenne peppers thinly.
Stir the kroeung into 1 cup of coconut milk, and when it has dissolved, add the fish sauce to taste and sliced fish. Then add the remaining coconut milk and mix well.
Place fish mixture in a small bowl. Steam for about 20 minutes or until the coconut milk is solid, but still moist. Before serving top each bowl with a little coconut cream and garnish with kaffir leaf and cayenne peppers.
Serve with steamed rice.
Addendum (22 March 2006): Try the more recent fish amok recipe for more authentic results.