Main Dishes · Uncategorized

Fish Amok

Fish Amok is the national dish of Cambodia. This steamed curry has mild flavors and extremely tender fish.

Five banana leaf bowls filled with orange fish amok.They are in a pan and each is decorated with slices of thai chili.


Unlike Thailand, Cambodia’s cuisine is about fresh ingredients and subtle flavors. Cambodians are masters of mixing together fresh ingredients to produce flavorful dishes.

Amok starts with a fresh made curry paste. Shallot, garlic, turmeric, galangal, chilis, lemon grass and grilled peppers all go into the paste.

Fish amok in a banana leaf bowl. The amok is red colored and there is a star of red chilis in the center.

Traditionally, the ingredients are pounded with a mortar and pestle. It’s important to chop your ingredients as finely as possible before you grind them as this makes the grinding easier.

You can make the paste in a food processor but Cambodians frown on that because the flavors don’t develop quite as well as they do when they are ground by hand.

A banana leaf bowl filled with fish amok on a plate. There is a mound of white rice on the plate to the left of the bowl.

Next blend the paste into coconut milk and egg yolks to make a curry custard that you steam the fish in. 

Amok is steamed in banana leaf boats. If you don’t have banana leaves, you could use heat-proof bowls.

Yield: 2 servings

Fish Amok

Fish amok in a banana leaf bowl. The amok is red colored and there is a star of red chilis in the center.

This is a traditional mild steamed fish curry from Cambodia. It is considered the national dish.


curry paste

  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves finely chopped
  • about ½ inch galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ½ inches turmeric
  • thai chili peppers to taste
  • 4 stalks lemon grass. use only the tender inner stalk with the ends trimmed
  • 3 grilled chili peppers (poblano works)


  • 2 banana leaves cut into 10 inch circles.
  • 11 ounces tilapia or other firm white fish
  • 2 drops shrimp paste
  • ¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar
  • 2 pinches salt


Curry Paste

  1. Put the first 6 ingredients into a mortar and grind with a pestle until they form a paste.
  2. Add the lemon grass and grind it into the paste. Then add the grilled chili peppers and grind until everything is well mixed into a paste.

Banana leaf bowls

  1. You can view a video of this here. Put one banana leaf circle on top of another. On one side fold about 2 inches of the circle in towards the center. Turn the circle 90 degrees and fold the next side in towards the center. This will form a triangle pleat on the corner. Fold the pleat back towards one of the sides and use a toothpick to secure it by piercing the banana leaf with the toothpick from the outside and then poking the tip back outside.
  2. Turn the leaf 90 degrees, fold over the next side and pin the triangle pleat to the side of the bowl.
  3. Repeat 2 more times. The bottom will be square.
  4. Repeat with the other banana leaves to make a second bowl.


  1. In a bowl whisk the curry paste together with the other amok ingredients aside from the fish.
  2. Mix in the fish and spoon into the two banana leaf bowls.
  3. Steam for 20 minutes.

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