I was living in Dubai for a few years and had made the deicision to leave. I jumped at the chance when I had a free flight to use up and had the opportunity to visit with a friend who lived there. This was 2 months before I was to return to Sydney. This is the trip that I knew that I wasn't quiet ready to settle and I wanted to do some volunteer English teaching and spending some time exploring the country. So I headed back to Sydney for a couple of months and did an intensive TEFL course with a further specialised course in teaching English to children.
I was back on Cambodian soil by July.
After a couple of months of mooching around with friends and having a well earned 'rest' I headed to Siem Reap for two months to 'work'. It wasn't work really, I loved teaching English to the kids. I was helping out at an orphange on the outskirts of the town and then in a little village school for awhile. I was making friends with some wonderful people and was enjoying my life.
While living in Siem Reap I took advantage of a holiday long weekend and booked myself and a couple of friends into a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier. It took place in the open air top floor kitchen along Pub St.
Donning aprons and chef hats, we chose the dishes that we wanted to cook and proceeded to chop, dice, slice and mincing. Not to mention the pounding of the spices to make a curry base. Our chef and assistant were very helpful and taught us how to cut at the 'right' angle and how to mince the meat correctly.
Cooking abilities were put to the test with the girls owning up to not being good in the kitchen. As you know I love to cook but I am challenged myself sometimes. We had a lot of fun and as a bonus our dishes looked delicious and we were eager to taste them.
Between the three of us we had six dishes to sample, plus during the course of the cooking we all helped make a dessert.
My dishes of the day were a banana blossom salad. The banana blossom is a hard plant and needs to be blanched to soften it. Eaten in a salad it is delicious and crunchy.
I also prepared a Samlor Machou Khroeung, which is a beef and water spinach dish. I love water spinach. The tubular stems are a good conduit for any delicious sauce and the green leaves are yummy.
There is something that I love about Cambodia cooking, well actually South East Asian cooking generally. Most Asian cooks do not follow a recipe, they feel their way through the process. Whatever is available in the markets that day, tasting as they go. Getting the balance of sweet, salty, sour and heat just perfect for their palate. There can never really be any 'mistakes’ in the kitchen. Dishes are made with love.
Our feast was coming along very nicely.
However, there was no way we were all going to get through the mountains of food and a doggy bag was taken to enjoy a meal with a friends family later on in the evening.
We finished the meal off with a custard pumpkin. It's slowly baked so the custard sets and the pumpkin is sweet and tender.
Hanging out with friends on a rare day off, due to the floods in Siem Reap, I got to hang with some friends.