Top Ten Khmer Foods: #8 Fish Amok
The guidebooks call Fish Amok the national dish of Cambodia, but an informal survey of 10 Cambodian (female) colleagues confirms that only 2 know how to cook Amok, and even they are a bit iffy. The variations of amok are as varied as the species of fish in Cambodia (which is to say, very varied) — thin sauce to gelatinous; red, white, to slightly green; wrapped in banana, or placed on a bed of greens — but the general idea remains the same, boneless fish chunks steamed in a light coconut curry. The essential aromatic ingredients of Amok are lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves which give it a citrusy, fresh flavor which complements the fish better than your traditional Khmer curry sauce. I tend to like the deep red variations because they’re spicier and thicker seems better because generally the cook has used the richest part of the coconut milk. I give extra points for the banana leaves, but only because of the presentation.