What’s cooking?

We’ve been in Cambodia for almost a year and in that time I have done a woeful amount of Asian cooking. I’ve bellyached my way through the supermarkets with their small range of Western goods, cooked conservatively and blamed my simple kitchen for my simple cooking.

Time for a change.

A visit to Thailand, a bookstore and many recipe books later, I am inspired to use the unfamiliar ingredients on my doorstep that I’ve pointedly ignored. A note, I’m experimenting with Thai rather than Khmer food because I like Thai better. It has more kick. As we have a toddler in the house who needs to eat with us, we’re amping up the heat with chilli on the side rather than in the dish.

We start the odyssey with simple – Beef with Black Bean Sauce.

Step one, acquire all ingredients. Step one point one, make a shopping list for the wet market outside my house with my nanny and Google images. My nanny does all our market shopping as she can speak Khmer, will get a better deal, actually knows what she’s looking at and whether it’s ready to eat. In the past we have had hilarious, what-are-you-a-five-year-old conversations about things like when the green bananas she bought were ready to eat. “They’re ready now Vicky. This is the type of banana that is always green.”  Duh.

After that segue way, we got the ingredients, had a laugh that while leeks and spring onions look the same, one is an order of magnitude bigger than the other. Went back to the market to buy the actual spring onions. And now, ready, set, cook!


Top left the troublesome leek & spring onions, bottom, ingredients ready to go and the finished product.

Final thoughts, this was way easy. Combined with my new rice cooker, which I love, it was a fast, delicious meal.

Husband approved. Toddler ho hummed.

Beef with Black Bean Sauce
1.5 – 2 tbsp black bean sauce, roughly mashed
100 ml beef stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
.5 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
2-3 spring onions, cut into 2.5 cm pieces
coriander leaves, to garnish

Mix the black bean sauce , stock, fish sauce, oyster sauce and cornflour together in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and stir fry garlic over medium heat 1 – 2 minutes. Add the beef and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes.

Add the pepper & onion and stir fry for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the black bean sauce mixture and spring onion and toss together. Taste and adjust.

Serve over rice and garnish with coriander.


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