The original name of this dish was just amok, but people began requesting for chicken to be used, so trey, meaning ‘fish’, was added. In Cambodia, catfish is traditionally used, but, any firm white fish is suitable. You don’t need all the coconut milk, but you need enough of the thick solids that settle on top, so don’t shake the cans before opening.
- 12-15 makrut lime leaves, centre veins discarded, thinly shredded
- 1 large lemongrass stalk, white part only, chopped
- 1 cm slice galangal, peeled, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 x 560 ml cans coconut milk
- 1 tsp shrimp paste (belachan) (see Note)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp grated palm sugar
- 700 g barramundi fillets, pin-boned, skinned, finely chopped
- 2-3 large pieces banana leaf
- 6 bamboo skewers
- steamed jasmine rice, to serve
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.
Process lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal and garlic in a small food processor to a paste. (You can also do this using a mortar and pestle).
Carefully skim solids from top of coconut milk and measure 310 ml (1¼ cups). Reserve remaining coconut milk for another use. Place coconut solids in a large pan with lemongrass paste, shrimp paste, fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 3 minutes or until smooth. Add fish and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until fish is just cooked. Remove from heat.
Trim any tough edges from leaves, taking care not to tear leaves. Cut 6 x 24 cm squares from leaves and, from trimmings, cut 6 x 8 cm x 24 cm strips. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and fill a large bowl with iced water. Using tongs and working with one piece of leaf at a time, lower banana leaf into boiling water for 1 minute or until softened, then immerse in iced water. Drain and pat dry with a tea towel.
Place a banana leaf strip in the centre of a banana leaf square. Place one-sixth of the fish mixture in the centre of the strip. Taking care not to tear leaves, bring the ends of the strip together and hold above fish mixture, then, using your other hand, bring the sides of the square in slightly to enclose mixture. Bring the other two sides of the square together to form a loose parcel, then secure with a skewer. (Don’t worry if parcel looks a little messy, it just needs to enclose mixture loosely.) Repeat with remaining banana leaf and fish mixture.
Place parcels, in a single layer, in a steamer and set over a pan of simmering water, working in batches if necessary. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Serve with rice.
• Shrimp paste is available from Asian food stores.
Photography by John Laurie.
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2011, Issue 3.