During Luke Nguyen's travels along the Greater Mekong he meets a passionate Cambodian cook who prepares for him this very old, traditional recipe using prahok, a fermented salted fish paste. When paired with thinly sliced pork belly, egglant, coconut milk and a lemongrass paste known as kroeung, this is a curry to remember. Serve with cabbage, cucumber and snake beans for dipping.






Skill level

Average: 4 (65 votes)


  • 150 g pork belly
  • 50 g prahok (fermented salted fish)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 

For the sauce

  • ½ red pepper, pounded to a paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 20 g palm sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut milk
  • 10 miniature eggplant or one small chopped eggplant (optional)
  • 2 makrut lime leaves, shredded
  • splash vegetable oil

For the Kroeung paste

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
  • ½ tsp galangal, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 3 makrut lime leaves, deveined
  • ½ tsp turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped, seeded (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Using two knives cleavers finely chop the pork belly, prahok and two garlic cloves.

Using a pestle and mortar or food processer. Pound or blend all the ingredients for the Kroeung paste to a smooth paste (add a little water if necessary).

Splash a little vegetable oil in a hot wok, add pounded red pepper and garlic, and stir till fragrant. Add coconut cream and cook until thick and bubbling. Add chopped pork, prahok and 2 more cloves of crushed garlic. Stir till well combined. Add one heaped dessertspoon of the Kroeung paste, allow the flavors to combine, then add the eggplant and cook until soft.

Just before serving add finely chopped makrut lime leaves.

Serve with cabbage wedges, cucumber wedges, snake beans and a squeeze of lime.