Battambang. Quiet & Tasty.
What to do with 20 hours in Battambang, Cambodia.? I had no reason for stopping there other than to avoid getting stuck at the awful Poipet/Aranyaprathet border. During a brief walk around the center of town I saw several restaurants offering cooking classes and the price was right – only $8 for a half day class! Without hesitating, I signed up and dedicated my last few hours in Cambodia to learning how to prepare a few standard Cambodian dishes. I went with Nary’s Kitchen, conveniently right across the road from my guesthouse and the class started out with a walk over to the morning market to pick up the ingredients that they didn’t have on hand, as well as a quick tour of a Cambodian market. Almost everything was the same as I’d seen in Thai markets, but it was still nice to have an explanation of how certain veggies, spices and ingredients are used in Cambodian cuisine.
Upon returning to the small restaurant I was delivered into the care of Nary herself. She had everything setup and prepared for me and we got started with the main dish – Fish Amok. Nary’s English consisted of “cut small, cut smallsmall, & cut small, small, small” along with the same equivalents for big. But it wasn’t a problem. She could show me what she wanted me to do and their kids and other family members would come through often and add a few more words to the mix. Fish Amok was the best thing I tried during my short Cambodian visit and I was happy to learn how to make the sauce with a coconut base and make the spice mix from scratch. While the fish was steaming away, we also made fresh spring rolls and Beef Lok Lok, another staple dish which I found quite similar to the standard fare in Peru & Bolivia.
At the end of the class, I sat down to dine on my masterpieces. It was way too much food for me but all turned out quite nice and I was happy to taken the class and spent a few hours with Nary and her family!