On my travels last year I ate a lot of different and exciting food, fruit I’d never seen before, rice paper in dozens of different incarnations, peanut sauces, secret recipes and food from barrels in the street. Amok was one of my favourite dishes, a mild Cambodian curry with coconut milk steamed in a banana leaf. I decided to see what would happen if I tried to make my own back in rainy North London, and it turned out pretty well. I’m not sure it was quite as good as eating it sitting outside under the Cambodian stars in Siem Reap, but it came a pretty good second.

I didn’t have time to locate banana leaves, so I used cabbage leaves, held together with cocktail sticks and hope.

Amok (MiMi Aye’s, also used by Gordon Ramsay)

Amok curry paste

2 tbspn dried chilli  flakes
6 cloves garlic
1 red onion, diced
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 sticks of lemongrass
2 inch piece of galangal, peeled (they sell it at Morrisons)
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
6 kaffir lime leaves or the zest of a lime
1 tbsp shrimp paste


400g of hake/sustainable white fish
Can of coconut milk
1 tbsp palm or brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 eggs
2 large banana leaves, or cabbage leaves

Blend the curry paste ingredients together. Fry for 1 minute in some vegetable oil or groundnut oil. Add the coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for a few minutes, then leave to cool.

Remove the fish skin from the fish and set aside. Cut the fish into small pieces. Add the eggs to the coconut milk mixture and beat slightly so the yolks are dispersed. Add the fish pieces.

Now for the challenge. Put the cabbage bowls into your steamer (I used a colander over a pan of boiling water). Ladle in the amok mixture as high as it’ll take. Steam for 25-30 minutes, or until the mixture has just set.

Flour and salt the fish skin bits and fry for a few minutes until brown. Use as a garnish. Serve the amok with rice.