Amok Trei is a famous Cambodian entrée that consists of steamed fish in a rich,
aromatic curry sauce, traditionally served in banana leaves.
The combination of flavors here—coconut milk, a spice paste called kroeung, and
the additional of kaffir lime leaves—makes this dish uniquely flavorful. Here's
how to prepare this Cambodian-inspired dish at home.
Cambodian-Inspired Amok Trei, a Steamed Curried Fish Entree
For the Kroeung Spice Paste:
- 3 stalks lemongrass (outer leaves removed, lower part finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 small shallots (peeled)
- 1 inch piece of fresh turmeric (peeled)
- 1 inch piece of fresh galangal (peeled)
- 5 fresh kaffir lime leaves
For the Remaining Amok Trei Ingredients:
- 2 Sea Bass fillets (cut into large-sized chunks)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp palm sugar
- 2 banana leaves
- A handful of Thai basil leaves (10 leaves)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Steamed basmati rice (for serving)
- Start by making the Cambodian-style kroeung spice paste.
- Combine the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, turmeric, galangal, and kaffir lime leavesin a food processor or grind up the ingredients using a mortar and pestle.
- Grind until you get a fine paste--This is your kroeung spice paste.
- In a bowl, combine the kroeung with the coconut milk, eggs, fish sauce, sugar, and a pinch of Kosher salt.
- Mix until well combined.
- Add the Sea Bass pieces to the bowl, and gently mix until they're well coated with the curry mixture.
- Let this mixture sit for about 15 minutes to allow the fish time to marinate slightly.
- While the fish is marinating, prepare your steamer and banana leaf cups.
- You can make the cups by folding the banana leaves into a square or a round shape and securing them with toothpicks.
- Divide the fish along with the curry mixture evenly among the banana leaf cups.
- Top each with a few Thai basil leaves.
- Steam the filled banana leaf cups for about 20-25 minutes, or until the curry mixture is firm and the fish is cooked through.
- Once done, remove from the steamer and let them cool slightly before serving. Serve your Amok Trei with steamed basmati rice on the side.
fish right after it is cooked. Amok Trei is a flexible dish—in the sense that you can substitute the Sea Bass here
with any white fish, or alternative just swap out with fresh shrimp or chicken. Just
adjust the cooking time accordingly. This dish is about balance: the sweetness of the coconut milk, the umami and
saltiness from the fish sauce, and the aromatic kroeung spice paste should all come
together in a way that tastes good to you. It might take a little practice to adjust the
different ingredients to arrive at the perfect combination for your palate, but this is
well worth the effort.