Chek Chean Khtis Dong
When I am eating Chek Khtis (banana coconut milk dessert), I think of Chek Chean(fried banana) which is also my favorite snack. If we eat fried banana with coconut cream, what taste would it be? Fried banana is crispy and coconut cream is creamy, it might make a great mixture of taste. It’s been long back that I could not try it out. Until yesterday, I finally find it very yummy to eat fried banana with coconut milk.
So to eat fried banana with coconut cream, you need to prepare the coconut cream at home and buy some fried bananas from the market (or you can do it at home too, here is how).
How to prepare coconut cream?
1. For serving of 5 fried banana, we need about 250g of shredded coconut meat to squeeze for 450-500 ml of coconut milk.
2. Soak 2 tbsp of tapioca pearl (ម្សៅសាគូ) for 10 minutes, then drain it and put in a small pot together with coconut milk on medium fire, add a little bit salt.
3. Lower the heat as it’s boiling, add sugar to your desire sweet level.
4. As long as the tapioca pearl is properly cooked (when the pearls become clear and bigger), the coconut cream is ready. The liquid is thin while it’s hot, but it turn thicker later on.
5. Now cut fried banana into pieces in a plate, sip the coconut cream and top up with sesame or peanut.
Try it yourself and tell me do you like it?
Num Cheal – Pchum Ben Day’s Cake
Num Cheal (នំជាល) is one of Khmer traditional cakes that has exist until today. Num Cheal has its origin in Kampong Chhang province and has become popular all over country of Cambodia. Cheal is the round container made of bamboo slices, could be 8-10 cm in diameter and about 15 cm high. Num Cheal is contained in it and steam, that’s why the cake is so called.
Num Cheal is usually made during Pchum Ben Day just like Num Ansom (sticky rice cake). They have got another name as ‘Pchum Ben Cake’. Mostly when people visit their families in the provinces on Pchum Ben Day, they will come back to the city with Num Ansom and Num Cheal.
Read further in case you would like to find out how Num Cheal has been made.
- Sticky rice
- Palm sugar
- Soak sticky rice for one hour, then mill, drain, and press it hard
- Mix the sticky rice dough with palm sugar, shredded coconut meat, sesames, and add a little salt. However, if we want to keep it for serving in a longer time, coconut meat is excluded.
- Place plastic bag inside the containers and then pour the mixed dough into the containers. Arrange the containers in the steamer or steaming pot. In the past, when there is no plastic bag, banana leave is used.
- Num Cheal need about one hour steaming in order to be cooked, after that leave it cool and dry it in the sunlight.
How to serve Num Cheal?
Though after steamed the cake is cooked, but Num Cheal is served after fried. So after dried Num Cheal can be kept for months (if made without coconut meat). Whenever want to eat, slice the cake into thin pieces and fry with little cooking oil on low heat.
Num Cheal is nice to eat when it’s still hot. After fried the cake is not completely become crispy like other fried foods, but the mixture of crispy and soft. If it’s kept cool, the cake becomes hard.
Even thought modern people might not like Num Cheal very much, however, Num Cheal is still a popular cake for annual events, Pchum Ben Day. Everyone will have only one chance to eat Num Cheal in a year. And the city people are happy to have it come back home.
Bang Em San Daek Khiev
Green bean dessert is one of popular desserts for Cambodian. People usually having dessert after their lunch or after they are off from work in the evening. Dessert stalls are common in Phnom Penh and also mobile stalls which selling many kinds of popular Khmer dessert. Most of desserts are easy to prepare that Cambodian people also like to cook dessert at the weekend for whole family serving. Some popular desserts that most often be cooked are Chek Khtis (Banana coconut milk dessert), Bang em la pov (Pumpkin coconut milk dessert), and also green bean dessert which in Khmer we call bang em san daek khiev (bang em = dessert; san daek = bean; khiev = green).
If you also would like to try green bean dessert by your own, you can refer to the recipe below.
Ingredients for 3 servings
- 100 g of green bean: soak it for about 1-2 hours, then wash it well and drain.
- 500 g of shredded coconut meat: we need two kinds of coconut milk, thick and thin. So the first wringing of coconut meat need 250 ml of water, and this first outcome of coconut milk is thick, we keep it in different bow. After that, we will need about 750 ml of thin coconut milk right into the cooking pot. So wring it for several times. To be easy, you can order people to get ready these two kinds of coconut milk for you when you buy coconut at the market. The canned coconut milk is also available, but it’s can replace for thick coconut milk only, and then use pure water for thin coconut milk.
- 100 g of palm sugar or 150 g of refined sugar. If you use palm sugar disc you have to turn it into sugar power. Simply put the sugar disc on the cutting board and use knife to slice it. For Cambodians, we always use palm sugar for all kinds of desserts, because it makes better natural sweet flavor and giving the dessert the great aroma of palm sugar.
- Place the pot of thin coconut milk on fire, just about 5 minutes later, it’s boiling; now add green bean and a little salt, decrease heat to medium. It need about 30 minutes to 45 minutes for the green bean to be soft and break out. So be patient, because too much heat will cause the coconut milk becomes dry before the green been turns soft.
- After the green bean become soft we can add sugar. Do not add all at once, in case it’s too sweet.
- Then add the 250 ml thick coconut milk. Now if you feel the dessert is too thick (less water), you can add some boiling water and adjust your sweet level. Bring your dessert to boiling and it’s done.
Green bean dessert can help reduce the heat inside our body. If we intend to have it for this reason, my mom also added wax gourd in the green bean dessert and they can go well together.
Green bean dessert is also serving with ice and adds some milk. Mostly if you order green bean dessert from the dessert stall you will get this version. So if you cook your green bean dessert at home and want to serve with ice too, your green bean dessert must be sweeter and don’t need to have much liquid.
Samlor Machu Trokuon – Common Soup of Khmer Meals
Samlor Machu Trokuon or Water Spinach Sour Soup is a very common soup of Cambodian daily meals. We cook it very often because it’s easily goes with other foods and always make our meals delicious. The recipe of Samlor Machu Trokuon is very simple. However, the young people of modern days might not know how to cook water spinach sour soup. So if it’s the case, you can refer to the recipe below.
Ingredients for 3 servings
1. Water spinach / Trokuon: two bunches, cut it into 5cm long pieces, take only young parts, wash well and drain.
2. Fish: a small fish of about 300 g (can be trei ros, trei po or trei kae), wash well and cut it into round slices of about 1.50 cm thick.
3. Ripe tamarind flesh which seeds are taken out ready for sour soup tasting. Need only a round piece as big as a small ball of about 3 cm in diameter.
4. One lemongrass stalk, beat it to be a bit flat; a small piece of galangal (mdeng), these are for reducing the smell of fish and increase aroma of herb.
5. Two tbsp sugar, 5 tbsp fish sauce
6. M’orm to top up for aroma
1. Put a cooking pot contains about 750 ml water onto fire. When the water is boiling, add in fish with a little salt, lemon grass stalk and galangal, decrease heat to medium.
2. Put tamarind flesh in a small bowl, take the boiling water from the pot into the bow and start to crush tamarind. Then pour the tamarind water back into the pot, if it’s not sour enough, do it again.
3. By now the fish is cooked, so add water spinach, add sugar and fish sauce. Next taste and adjust to your flavor. Increase the heat and bring it to boiling, then the water spinach is also cooked.
Water spinach sour soup is usually goes well with other dry foods such as fried or grilled dried fish or fried fish.
Depend on the favorite of each person, prohok is also added in Khmer water spinach sour soup. In this case, we will use less fish sauce and more sugar. Prohok will be crush in the same time with tamarind, we will need about 3-4 small fishes of prohok only.
Num Sambok Chab – Bird Nest Cake
Num Sambok Chab is a Khmer cake originated from Kampot province. It’s translated as Bird Nest Cake and the cake is so called because of its form and shape looks like the bird nest that formed by many threads of dry grass. Nowadays Num Sambok Chab is popular throughout the country. We can find and buy it at the weekend getaway sites around Phnom Penh such as Kean Svay (Kandal), Tonle Bati (Ta Keo), Phnom Oudong (Kandal), Phnom Praset (Kandal), Ampe Phnom (Kampong Speu). When we visit these places on public holidays or weekend, it’s the chance for us to taste many kinds of traditional cake and dessert and Num Sambok Chab is among them.
The ingredients for Num Sambok Chab included paddy rice or paddy rice flour and palm sugar. To make this cake we need a mold or draw-plate which has many small holes. The mold or draw-plate was made of coconut shell in the past time, but now it’s made of aluminum.
Below is how Num Sambok Chab is made:
Mostly people use their paddy rice and mill it into flour than buy the refined flour from the market. The paddy rice after wash and rinse, it must be soak for about 30 minutes, then drain and mill it. Now drain the milled flour to be dry by storing it in a bag made of cloth and use heavy thing to place on it so that the water in the flour come out. After a while, the flour become finely dry and hard, so break it off and mix it with palm sugar until it becomes liquid. And that’s completed for the flour.
Now prepare a pan of vegetable oil on fire, sprinkle the flour on the mold or draw-plate and slightly shake it on the pan so that the flour comes out through holes of the mold. Just about 2 minutes the cake is ready in the pan of hot oil, now take it out and shape it in any desired form when it’s still hot, because just after this, Num Sambok Chab become crispy. Leave it to drain off cooking oil then serve.
Nhorm Sdav – Khmer Salad
Sdav or Sdao is a kind of big growing tree in the wild of Cambodia, but it’s now brought to grow in the village also, because of its edible and contain health property. The edible parts are its young leaves and flowers with delicious bitter taste. Sdav is a seasonal plant, the new leaves and flowers only grow out during the month of November to February in Cambodia. It’s when Sdav begins to grow new branches and its flowers also grow out with new young leaves.
Sdav is served as vegetable for dipping with Teuk Kroeung and other Khmer dips. But Sdav Salad or Nhorm Sdav is a popular food for Cambodian.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
- 1 small bunch of Sdav of its young leaves and flowers
- 100 g pork
- 100 g fish flesh or smoked fish (optional)
- 1 tomato
- 1 cucumber
Ingredients for dressing:
- Ripe tamarind
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 shallot
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 or 2 red chilly
Preparation of the dressing
Put ripe tamarind in a bow, add 3 tbsp boiled water and start to crush it so that its flesh slips away from its seeds. Then take out the seed. Garlic and red chilly finely chopped, shallot slice thinly. Then add all into the bow of tamarind included sugar and fish sauce. Then taste it to the right flavor of sweet sour sauce.
Preparation for Sdav Salad
Put the bunch of Sdav into a bow to dip it with boiling water. Do not dip it into the boiling water on fire. But after the water is boiled, pour it onto the bow of Sdav. Then Sdav will turn into a very beautiful green leaves. Just for 5 minutes, Sdav must take out from boiled water and wash out with cold clean water. After drained, Sdav leaves and flowers must be picking up from its branches. And this is ready for Sdav.
Pork after boiled, thinly slice into small slices. If you choose to add fish or smoked fish, then it’s must be grilled, then remove bones. Tomato and cucumber also thinly slice. Coriander also finely picked, and cut into small pieces. Now mix all the ingredients together and add the tamarind sauce slowly.
Nhorm Sdav or Sdav Salad is a great food for people who like bitter vegetables. Everyone in my family like it, we will have a big meal with Nhorm Sdav that consists of the bitter flavor of Sdav, the sweet of cucumber, the sour of tomato, the aroma of coriander, and the hot of chilly.
If you haven’t tried Nhorm Sdav before, give it a try!
Num plae ai (ផ្លែអាយ) or glutinous rice balls with sugar candy filling is a kind of Khmer traditional sweet. The cake is made into small slippery rice balls with palm sugar filled. It is a kind of special sweet for sugar lovers.
The origin of its name is uncertain. Num means cake, plae means fruit, and ai is just a word of name. So it’s to be translated as ai fruit cake which we don’t know what is ai fruit. According to a Khmer legend, num plae ai has a another name as ‘kill husband cake’. A wife preprared num plae ai for her husband to serve in order to kill him because he has betrayed her by having a love affair with anther woman. The filling of num plae ai is very sweet and the sticky rice flour cover is slippery, so it’s easily get stuck in the husband’s throat and cause him to choke. However, the reality proved that there is no such danger serving num plae ai
Num plae ai is very easy to prepare, here is how.
- 250 g sticky rice flour
- 100 g palm sugar candy: cut it into small cube pieces (about the size of your finger tip)
- young grated coconut
Mix sticky rice with about 100 ml of water, then the flour turns into a form of soft that we can make it into any shape. Now make it into balls of about 1.5 cm in diameter, then insert the sugar cube into the ball as filling.
Have a pot of boiling water ready on fire with moderate heat. After the ball is inserted with sugar cube, put it into the pot, when the balls float up, they are cooked. Take it out to another bow of cold water. One minute later, drain it out to a basket with holes. The process is continuosly like this.
Num plae ai is usually packed up in a package made of banana leaf which look very nice. Each package contains 5-7 balls and is top with young grated coconut.
Break the ball with your one bite, you will immediately feel the special sweetness of num plae ai.