As a massive foodie, I knew I had to learn how to cook a few Cambodian dishes before I left. Luckily, a Cambodian cooking class took place close to where we were based in Phnom Penh. So a few days before we went down to book our places at the Frizz restaurant on street 240, where our culinary adventure was to begin!
Mr. A and I arrived at the restaurant for 9am, where a few tourists were already waiting. Our very smiley cooking instructor, Lucky 2 (Lucky 1 is his brother) had us all introduce ourselves to the 16 other students before we all piled into tuk tuks to go explore a nearby market. Once we arrived at the market, we split up into two groups, and Lucky 2’s assistant (whose name escapes me!) showed us various ingredients found in Khmer cuisine, and answered any questions we had.
Khmer cuisine is very similar to Thai cuisine. Thai food, and other cuisines based in Southeast Asia have roots in Khmer cooking. However, Thai food changed dramatically with the introduction of chilli, which the Portuguese brought with them when they arrived in the 16th century. Cambodian food is milder, but uses similar flavours and styles.
Once we’d bought the last bits for our class, we got back into the tuk tuks and were taken to an open rooftop kitchen somewhere on diamond island. The kitchen was a large table complete with our own chopping board and mortar and pestle. I was ridiculously excited.
The other students were really lovely, a great mixture of Indian, Norwegian, Mexican and French people. It was a bit like a culinary UN.
There are two options for the class: you can go for the half day (9am – 12pm) or the full day (9am – 3pm). Mr. A and I went hardcore and went for the full day, which set us back $26 each. I thought that was a great deal considering that includes lunch!
We made Chaio Yor, fried spring rolls with taro root and carrot with a sweet and sour dipping sauce to start.
Followed by Cambodia’s national dish, fish amok. Fish amok is a creamy coconutty curry cooked in a banana leaf and served with rice. It was delicious.
The fish amok was the last course for those on the half day. Those of us (around half) that stayed on were to have another two courses. I am so glad I stayed because I now know how to make banana blossom salad, which is now my favourite salad in the entire world! I’ll be recreating some of these recipes on my blog at some point.
We wrapped the day up by making a sticky rice and mango pudding. I am not a massive fan of sweet rice dishes but this was incredible. My mouth is watering just writing this now!
I am so glad that I did this class. Even though the rooftop was warm, I love knowing that whenever it takes my fancy I can now whip up something delicious, and it makes me feel like my holiday hasn’t ended.