asian adventures & cambodian fish amok
I have returned from one of the most amazing trips of my life. Asia you are astounding, thanks for having me over!
I have been staring at this blank page for more than a week now. I am unsure of what to write, perhaps because I have been blasted back to reality and have not had the time to reflect on my journey or maybe it's that the emotions and experiences one has while traveling do not easily translate into words.
What I do know is this. I am grateful to have such amazing family and friends to travel and share my life and experiences with. Waking up with you at 4am to see the sunrise at Ankgor Wat in the pouring rain is something I will never forget. I would never have survived the 5 hour cab ride of terror from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh without you. I cannot imagine conquering the madness and the streets of Saigon or indulging in Vietnamese street food with anyone else. And, of course, climbing the Great Wall and crusin' down the Yangtze would have been plain boring with any other crew.
Thank you to the people of Cambodia for welcoming us into your home, for being a friend and showing us your hearts. Thank you for smiling always and reminding me what a beautiful world we live in and how beautiful people can be. Vietnam, I wish I had more time with you. Saigon, you are insane, thanks for allowing me to cross the street in one piece and for feeding me some of the best meals of my life; I hope to be back for seconds soon! And China, thanks for a week of exploration with my family; who would of thought a family vacation in China would actually happen!
It was a brief trip that lasted a lifetime. This my friend does not happen often, and it is an amazing feeling. I usually feel like vacation is over before it even starts. It was wonderful to feel like time actually slowed down, and to have the ability to embrace and enjoy each step of the trip. Perhaps I'll have more insight and stories for you all later. But for now, here are a few shots from our weeks abroad. I hope they inspire you to take a leap into a foreign land, to taste exotic foods and mingle with the beautiful people of the world.
Into the mist, a foggy descent on the Great Wall... it's steeper than it appears!
Hungry? "The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
Tinker Toys of Hong Kong by day.
Hong Kong harbor hustle & bustle by night.
Street market, Yi Chang, China. Ate my first roasted chestnuts, yum!
The streets of Saigon, Vietnam.
Bun & Pho galore... the most delicious lunch from the the "lunch lady" in Saigon.
Hoi An, Vietnam. Our picturesque lantern lined street.
The vibrancy & colors of Hoi An.
An Bang Beach, Vietnam. Beach crusin' kind of day.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Smiling faces for sunrise in the rain at Angkor Wat.
Royale Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Amok! Cambodia's national dish. It may sound strange but it's damn delicious.
Cambodian Fish Amok
This recipe is adapted from a wonderful cooking class we took while in Siem Reap. This makes approximately 2 servings, and is wonderful served with rice. If you have questions about ingredients or the trip in general please leave a comment below. It's quite delicious so be sure to give this recipe a try!
- 1 lb filet of white fish such as sole, cod or tilapia, cut into small pieces
- 1, 15oz can organic coconut milk
- 1 T chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
- 1 t turmeric powder or 1 piece of fresh turmeric peeled and minced
- 1 in. piece of galangal, peeled and minced
- 3 in. piece of fresh lemongrass, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
- 1 T fish sauce
- 1 t shrimp paste
- 2 t palm sugar
- handful of spinach, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
With a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound galangal, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and kaffir lime leaf until they are very fine and paste is beginning to form. Add turmeric, shrimp paste, and chili paste and continue to pound until they are well mixed.
Heat a medium pot on a low heat and add the herb paste you've just made. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. When the coconut milk is hot, add your fish and allow to cook until it is opaque and fully cooked, approximately 5 minutes.
Turn heat to low, add fish sauce, palm sugar, spinach and salt to taste. While slowly mixing in a circular motion drizzle egg into the curry to thicken. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice.
Ingredient Notes: Galangal is a relative of ginger with a little more punch. If you are unable to find it, you may substitute fresh ginger. Kaffir lime leaves are an important ingredient in many Asian cuisines, the juice is often too acidic to use so the rind and leaves are used in many dishes. You can sometimes find the dried leaves in Asian markets or the spice section of your grocery store. If you are unable to find kaffir, use the zest of one lime. Palm sugar can be replaced with any sugar you have on hand, and if you can't find shrimp paste, add an extra dash of fish sauce. If you are unable to find fresh lemongrass, there is often dried versions in the spice section of your local market. However, I feel like lemongrass was the essence of most of the Cambodian cuisine so do your best to find fresh, it's so much more flavorful.