I'm very lucky to be part of this very exciting project - a Cambodian Cookbook of which the entire proceeds of the sales go to helping Khmer street children find a better life through the organization called Green Gecko.
Headed by Aussie Tania Palmer and Khmer husband Rem, the couple started out the project by providing shelter, food and education to street children they've met begging and loitering the avenues of Siem Reap. Now, it has grown into a well-respected institution and is now giving gecko love to around a hundred kids! Buying this cookbook will help them a loooonnnggg way!
This cookbook project was initiated by another dear Aussie friend Yvette - who got me on board as photographer, food stylist and book designer. Fellow spoolworks teammate Brewster Bonifacio did the full lay-out with Yvette. The original printing of the book was done in Australia, but after a few weeks, got sold out! So hence, a Cambodian edition was done. This proved to be a pain in the neck because color separation here is not as prime as abroad, but after changing printers THREE TIMES, it is finally out!
SEAFOOD IN KAMPOT PEPPER - The kampot pepper used here is the star of the Kmer kitchen and is one of Cambodia's biggest exports. Haute French cuisine uses this fantastic pepper thoroughly. This pepper is better eaten whole and raw.
BANANA BLOSSOM SALAD - This is definitely a beautiful dish - with the perfect balance of herbs and chili without overwhelming the taste of the banana blossom.
GLASS NOODLE SALAD - The shrimp version tastes better (since I don't eat other meats!) but I had fun putting this together on a stone knife sharpener! As in most Asian salads, the basil is the supreme flavor innovator on this dish...
FISH SALAD - This is another favorite of mine. What sets it apart from the other 'ensaladas' are the herbs and the freshwater fish!
SEAFOOD CURRY - One of India's best gifts to the world - the curry... every nation has probably a version they call their own! Our Khmer house cook makes a wicked version of this!
GRILLED SEAFOOD - It may look just like any grilled seafood, but the secret here is the marinade and the pepper sauce!
The hardest thing here was "arranging" the noodles in such a way that they curl up gracefully yet naturally. The vegetables were stir fried separately for arrangement purposes.
I purposely excluded Cambodia's national dishes - the AMOK and the LOK LAK so that leaves you to discover the book fully...
Contrary to popular belief that Cambodian cooking is a shadow of Thai and Vietnamese cooking, let us remind you that a thousand years ago, Siam and Vietnam were mere provinces of Angkor (Cambodia), that's why I don't think the similarities in their cuisine were copied by Cambodia... but whether you refuse to believe it or not, Cambodian cuisine is an adventure you should not dare to miss!