Curry or ‘Kari’ in Khmer is considered a special food mostly cooked during specific occasions in the family when family members are together, for example, the house warming party, the birthday party of family member. It’s also cooked in the big festivals of the year like Khmer New Year, especially Pchum Ben Day, in which curry is the special food offering to the monks.
Khmer curry is unique because of the composition of the Khmer Kroeung or Khmer curry paste that is also used in national dish, Amok, which will give pungent flavor and aroma.
Pa Ork (ប្អក់) is another kind of Khmer special food beside Prohok that can be kept for year. Pa Ork is also made of fish and fermented until the flesh become cooked. The kinds of fish that can be chosen to make Pa Ork included Trei Sanday, Trei Pra, Trei Po, Trei Kae, ect. mostly are big fishes with more fish oil. Below is the brief description of how Pa Ork have been made.
‘Teuk’ means ‘water’ or more specific here is ‘dip’. ‘Kroeung’ is the mixture of some Khmer herbs, used in most Khmer foods. Even though the name is Teuk Kreung, but the dip doesn’t contain any Kroeung. It’s a kind of dip made of cooked fish flesh and prohok sauce only. It’s doesn’t require much time to prepare and nothing to do much with fire.
- 0.5 kg of fish. There are many kinds of fish in Cambodia, you can choose any kind which are less bones and more flesh. Trei Rors is most selected for Teuk Kroeung. Because the flesh is still very tough (ស្វិត) after pounded, which we can feel the flesh when eating.
- 50g of prohok
- 5 cloves of garlic, 2 red chili
- 2 lemon, extract for juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons peanut (optional)
- A branch of kemangi (ជីរនាងវង), slice into small pieces and top on the dip for adding flavor
- Fish can be boiled (ស្ងោរ) or grilled. If you boil the fish you would have the fish soup for making prohok sauce instead of boiled water, which made Teuk Kroeung has more fish flavor. If you grill the fish, it would have a good smell (ឈ្ងុយ) of grilled fish. It’s optional. After the fish is cooked, remove its bones and take only flesh. Then put the fish flesh in the mortar, add garlic, sugar, and salt, so the fish flesh will be mixed well with seasoning. Now start to pound, it’s depend on you of how much you want to fish flesh to be fine.
- Crush prohok in a bowl with 250ml boiled water or the fish soup to get the prohok sauce.
- Now take the pounded fish flesh out from the mortar into a bowl, then mix it well with prohok sauce. You can add more boiled water or fish soup if you think it’s too thick with fish flesh and need more water.
- Then add lemon juice and start to adjust for your flavor. The Teuk Kroeung original flavor is a bit sour and salty, less sweet. The food is ready to serve when top with peanut, chili, and kemangi.
Teuk Kroeung is served with many kinds of fresh vegetables included cucumber, green tomato, water spinach, long bean, eggplant, water lily, pka snorw, kanh chhaet, pka kom plok, popea, sdov, and more. In short, Teuk Kroeung can be dipped with any kind of vegetables of your favorite.
Most of favorite Khmer foods are associated with the Kreung (a mixture of Khmer herbs), Prohok (fish pasted), Kapik (fermented shrimp) and also coconut milk. My last post was about Pineapple in Cambodia, in which pineapple is among popular vegetables of Khmer dishes. So today I would like to present a favorite Khmer foods related to pineapple called Samlor Khtis (សម្លខ្ទិះ), Fish Soup with Coconut Milk and Pineapple. It need more times to prepare, yet it’s easy to cook. It’s a typical delicious Khmer dish for lunch.