Kampot II

We have been thinking for several months now about taking a cooking class, but haven’t got around to it, or have found the ones available too expensive, or just weren’t that impressed by the local food. After a truly delicious meal on our first night in Kampot, we were very tempted when we noticed a reasonably priced one on offer.

Our host picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the market. We’ve been to many markets, in China and on the trip, but this one was impressive in both its scale and busyness. It was significantly more exotic than the ones in Shanghai, and many of the things we needed for our dishes were unfamiliar to us. The actually cooking took place outside in a cool courtyard, and we were the only participants that day, which was nice. We made vegetable spring rolls, chicken amok, and shrimp with fresh green Kampot pepper. Kampot is famous for its pepper, and the stuff we had was very tasty. Actually the whole meal was very tasty, and it was a really fun morning. Chicken Amok is a creamy coconut milk based curry – and we made the whole thing from scratch, even pounding up the spices for the curry paste and milking our coconut – which is more tedious and time-consuming than it sounds. Photos can be seen on the pictures page and the food page. Sadly I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to reproduce it outside of Cambodia. Some of the things required – such as fresh turmeric root, palm sugar and shrimp paste are not things you see everyday. It was a great experience, and maybe we’ll try to do another later.

Our last day in Kampot we went on yet another tour. We had promised ourselves we wouldn’t, but had been told that the Bokor Hill Station could only be accessed by foreigners if on an accompanied tour. The Bokor mountains are a national park just to the Northwest of Kampot, densely forested and quite pretty. They aren’t especially high (1080m) but provide an excellent vantage point over the gulf of Thailand and the surrounding flat land, and are also much cooler than the flat land below. French colonialists built the Hill station in the early 20th century, and by 1935 quite a community had developed up there – with villas, bars, restaurants, a church and the huge Palace Hotel. It is all an abandoned ruin now, but quite atmospheric and interesting. We trekked part of the way up the mountain, through quite dense jungly forest. It was fun, but unfortunately there were about 30 people in our tour, which spoiled the atmosphere a bit.

Tomorrow we head on north and west, towards a community based eco tourism enterprise in the cardamom mountains, which should be excellent.

Photos of this leg can be found here

~ by Elephants on January 22, 2011.

2 Responses to “Kampot II”

  1. Matthew, we’ll look forward to you cooking us Chicken Amok when you return. I’m confident we can find the ingredients in Diamond Bar!

  2. You definitely can find that stuff at the Filipino stores in Long Beach. We have shrimp paste in our fridge 🙂

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