Phnom Penh

Trip Start May 31, 2008
Trip End Jun 01, 2009

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Monday, September 1, 2008

Upon arriving in Phnom Penh we toured the Royal Palace and the national museum which was full of Angkor Wat artifacts on the first day. 

On the second we took a Khmer cooking lesson.  We cooked a Green Papaya Salad for a starter (all recipes are below).  Then a red curry and traditional Khmer stew for main courses.  This was followed by a pumpkin custard for dessert.  The cooking class was a wonderful, relaxing, and very filling way to spend a day.  We followed traditional methods (ie, grinding all our spices in a mortar and pestle - no spice powders here!).  The class was held in a very scenic part of the city.  We had a great view which ended up being quite the sight when the afternoon downpour came through! 

The brutal history of the recent Khmer Rouge really showed itself in Phnom Penh our third day.  The Genocide of close to 2 million people in the mid 70's was the focus of the next couple tours that we took. We visited the Tuen Sleng genocide prison which was located in an old high school in Phnom Penh.  Close to 20,000 people had been brutally tortured and then killed here.  From there we went out to the Killing Fields where many of the prisoners were dumped in mass graves.  The place was very sad and eerie.  There is a tower in the center of the field of human skulls that have been dug up from the surrounding grave sites.  The Cambodians are still coming to terms with the genocide and affects of the Khmer Rouge regime on their country.  It was a very sobering experience to read the stories of victims, and also to hear from the young perpetrators who were brainwashed into following the regime and participating in the genocide.

Bok l'hong - Green papaya salad  
100g shredded green papaya (or green mango)
2 string beans. Cut into pieces approximately 4cm each
1 medium-sized green tomato; chopped.
1 clove of garlic
1 small red chilli
1 Tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of shrimp paste
1 tsp of palm sugar
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
Sweet basil leaves
1 Tbsp peanuts
In a pestle in a mortar, pound garlic & chili. Add papaya and lemon juice, mix and pound lightly. Add string beans & tomatoes and mix and pound lightly. Add remainder of the seasoning ingredients and pound lightly.
Remove and garnish with ground peanuts and basil leaves.

Kari grahorm moen - Red Chicken curry 
150g chicken fillet
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp shallot, chopped
1/2 Tbsp powdered pepper
1 tsp curry powder
6 tsp coconut cream
1 tsp shrimp paste
1/2 turmeric
1/2 kaffir limes + 2 leaves 
30g lemongrass
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato
1 tsp dried chili, (soaked & finely chopped into a paste)
Red curry paste:
Pound lemongrass, turmeric, galangal, and kaffir lime in a mortar (or in a blender) with garlic, shallot, peanuts, and dried chili and set aside.
Heat a pot to a medium temperature and pour in coconut milk, pepper powder, shrimp paste, and curry powder and above curry paste; stir well. Add sugar, salt and vegetables, and wait for 5 minutes before putting chicken in. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Serve with rice or bread

Num sang kcha l'peou - Pumpkin custard 
1 whole pumpkin
3 eggs
4 tsp sugar
2 cups coconut milk
Wash the pumpkin thoroughly, then cut open the top and remove the seeds but retain flesh.
Place the egg & sugar in a large bowl. Beat until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth. Pour into the pumpkin; replace top and steam for 30 minutes. 
Serve by cutting like a cake.
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