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One of the many wonderful things about travelling the world is discovering new dishes and cooking methods. The ultimate way to get to know a country’s culinary specialities is to take a cooking class, you will find these in almost every city or town you visit and they’re well worth spending a few dollars and a day or so of your time to take. In Battambang we took a half day Cambodian Cooking Class and learnt how to prepare two Cambodian dishes, fish amok and chicken with lemongrass and holy basil.
This class was great for us as the children were welcome too, they cooked their own dishes right alongside the grown ups, learning new skills and discovering greater confidence in their own abilities.
We would highly recommend a cooking class or course like this in Cambodia or any country for travelling families, it really was a great experience for the kids, and for us.
We also highly recommend Battambang as a destination within Cambodia, read more about our unforgettable one day tour of Battambang here.
The Cambodian Cooking Class in Battambang
We took a half day Cambodian cooking class with Smokin’ Pot restaurant and Cookery School to try our hand at two traditional Khmer dishes.
Smokin’ Pot have a restaurant on Battambang’s low-key Pub St. ( nothing like Siem Reap’s version) and a rooftop cooking school at a separate location, not far away. This cooking class gets 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor if you’d like to read more. Unfortunately they don’t have their own website.
Coincidentally, the cooking school, Smokin’Pot on The Roof, was opposite our hotel in Battambang.
Smokin’ Pot were happy to accept children over 7 years of age onto the course.
The cooking class cost $10 per person and included a tour of the local market, a cook book each to take home, water and, of course, lunch.
The Cambodian Dishes We Prepared
Both dishes started with a curry paste of garlic, lemon grass, salt, sugar, galangal, turmeric, soaked dried chillies ( the kids omitted this) soy and fish sauces and kaffir lime leaves.
We did our fine chopping with a cleaver and wooden cutting board before smashing the ingredients to a paste with a stone pestle and mortar. All fingers remained intact.
This traditional and unusual Khmer dish is steamed in a banana leaf “boat” until the coconut curry sets around the chunks of snake head fish and mushroom. Fish amok was one of our favourite dishes in Cambodia, it is mild and creamy with coconut and the snake head is a good eating fish. We first tried this at, (our favourite) Garden Village Guest House in Siem Reap, it was always good.
Chicken With Lemon Grass and Basil
We ate many variations on fried chicken with lemon grass and basil in Cambodia. We felt it worked best with the lemon grass roughly chopped, rather than ground into the curry paste as it was in the cookery class. ( Try this in Kampot at Dara market’s Dara Win BBQ). This is a dish I will most certainly be preparing back home in Australia, where lemon grass grows like weeds. The children enjoyed this in restaurants, ordered in its “no spicy” form.
The Cambodian Market Tour
Markets in South East Asia are great, but not for those of a sensitive disposition. You will see things that maybe you’d rather not. If you don’t like gore, death, disembowelment and interesting smells, probably best that you don’t go.
I’m not going to put the more bizarre and gruesome photos in this post, Ill put them in this one (click through) so you can choose what you can’t unsee. A huge variety of unusual ( to us) living things are used in Cambodian cooking.
All up, a great morning and a great lunch. A special memory and a top-notch educational experience that I’m sure will stay with the kids a long time. We’ll be looking out for more family cooking classes around the world, this sure beats Domestic Science!