Flavour and theatre in epic proportions at play in this glorious dish from Cambodia.
Amok trey is a set curry, like a custard, traditionally featuring white fish, usually catfish, and eggs to set the curry, all steamed in a banana leaf boat.
We’ve gone veegs with this one so ours features silken tofu and the custard is thickened with tapioca flour. We’ve swapped fish sauce for soy sauce too, so between the tofu and the soy it’s losing its authenticity but none of the wow!
Granted, banana leaves aren’t yer everyday ingredient round these parts but this is what you do with them when you can get your paws on some, trus.
Under 1hr | serves 4 | damn easy
3 large pieces of banana leaf
2 packets silken tofu, each block cut in half
1 tbsp veg oil
2 tbsp palm or light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce – it’s a bit saltier and less soy-y than dark soy
4 star anise
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
400ml coconut milk
2 tbsp tapioca flour – you could use gram flour if that’s what you have
for the amok paste:
4 fat lemongrass stalks
20g (4-5 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
25g fresh turmeric, peeled – or 1 tsp turmeric powder
25g galangal, peeled and roughly chopped – you can use jarred galangal or fresh ginger if you can’t get galangal
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
50g roasted peanuts – or cashews
purple basil to garnish
Stack two pieces of banana leaf on top of each other, shiny sides facing out (their dull surfaces together), cut to the height of the leaf and 20cm wide. At one end, bring the corners together to form a point and then fold the flap up from the bottom. Secure with bamboo sticks, then repeat this at the other end. Make yourself 4 boats, like this, init…
Bash up the lemongrass stalks with a pestle or rolling pin, discard the woody outer layers and give the cores a rough chop up. Bung this and all the other paste ingredients in a blender along with 6 tbsp of yer coconut milk. Whizz til it’s a smooth paste.
In a bowl, whisk together the tapioca flour and the remaining coconut milk. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over a medium heat add the amok paste and fry gently for 2 mins when it will start to smell fragrant. Add the sugar, soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and the coconut milk mixture. Stir it all in and then remove from the heat.
Place a tofu block in each banana boat and spoon the curry around the tofu. Pop a star anise in each boat.
To cook we’ve found that a bain-marie in the oven works best as it is closest to the traditional method of cooking on the stove. you should just be able to fit all four boats on a rack over a roasting tray. Cook at 180°C for 15 mins until your custard is just set.
Garnish with whole sprigs of purple basil and serve with rice.
What we did here was primarily follow Rick Stein‘s Amok trey recipe from Far Eastern Odyssey, taking the method for the tapioca flour vegan version from The Vegetarian Resource Group and their Going Amok in Cambodia piece – which has no fewer than 11 veggie Cambodian recipes – either by nature or veggified by the VRG. It’s a great page, go visit!
See ya soon x