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The Smokin’ Pot restaurant in Battambang, Cambodia, sure serves up a good curry. So good, in fact, that after paying for dinner there I signed up for a training course the next morning.

I take no credit for the following recipe, but can assure you that it’s delightful. You might not find live fish or MSG, but hopefully you’ll get close to the same product that I devoured greedily.

[This is word for word from the chef himself, with my additions in square brackets.]

1 tbsp MSG (optional) [we weren’t given this option!] 1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp shrimp paste or 1/2 tsp salt
150g fish sliced into 6-8cm pieces [our live ones struggled to escape the container] 200g grated coconut squeezed with water (400ml) [ie. Coconut milk] 50g bamboo shoots sliced into 3cm pieces
1 or 2 long beans cut into 3cm pieces
1/2 eggplant sliced into small pieces
1tbsp curry paste (crush the ingredients below)
1tbsp peanuts – roasted and crushed
1/2 small onion chopped or sliced into wedges
50g straw mushrooms

CURRY PASTE [be sure to wash your hands after messing with this lot] 20g lemongrass – thin slices
2 thin slices of ginza [not a typo of ginger as I guessed] 1 to 2 thick slices of turmeric [I thought it only came as powder] 2 kaffir lime leaves with stems – thin slices
7 cloves garlic with skins removed – crushed
2 to 4 dried red chillies remove stalk and seeds [chef put five in his] 1/2 tsp salt
2 small green chillies
[then crush all of this in a pestle and mortar, or a Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker]

Put the coconut milk in a wok and bring it to the boil, and the curry paste and shrimp paste and fry gently for 20 seconds. Then add the fish and vegetables and cook until the coconut milk has dried.

[The last step took perhaps two minutes, meanwhile we gently pushed the edges of the milk inwards, carefully turning the ingredients so as not to break them up.] [If well stored, the paste can last for two months.] [Try chicken, beef, pork, veg, snake or rat instead of fish for variety.] [Serve with heaps of rice.]

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