Learning To Cook Cambodian Vegan Food In Luxury
Here at Vegan Food Quest, we not only love to ‘find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world’, but we love to cook it too.
If we’re honest, it’s hard to know where to start with Cambodian food as it’s not a cuisine that we’ve really cooked before, so when we heard that we could do a cooking class at Shinta Mani Club one of the best (and one of our favourite) hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap, we signed up straight away hoping to get some tips from the very talented Executive Chef Chanrith.
As we’ve eaten at Kroya, Shinta Mani’s signature restaurant, quite a few times we were pleased to see a few of our favourite dishes on the menu and couldn’t wait to prepare them ourselves!
Getting ready to cook with the talented head chef at Shinta Mani Club
We chopped, we fried, we smooshed things (Ok we made this word up), we stirred and we rolled; using ingredients that were new to us and bought fresh from the local market that morning. It was a brilliant way to spend a few hours and left us really inspired to get more creative in the kitchen.
Sights like this inspire us to get creative
Who wouldn’t want to get to work with all these ingredients?
We started the day by making a curry paste ‘kroeung’ which forms the basis of many dishes in Cambodian cuisine as well as our favourite Vegan Cambodian Root Vegetable ‘Kari’ which is made with curry paste, coconut milk, root vegetables and a little fruit (an added twist from chef Chanrith that you won’t find elsewhere but works really well).
The essentials for ‘kroeung’, Cambodian curry paste with fresh turmeric being a key ingredient and the finished product in the foreground
The unique thing about ‘kroeung’ as opposed to Thai curry paste, is the use of fresh turmeric and the absence of chilli. It’s an aromatic paste made from pounded lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, shallots and garlic; not only is is very therapeutic to make but forms the basis of a really tasty curry.
We mastered making fresh spring rolls (ok not mastered as such but definitely became semi-proficient), an avocado ‘mousse’ and the popular Cambodian street food snack ‘nom pla aye’, delicious rice flour dumplings filled with palm sugar candy and rolled in freshly grated coconut.
Caryl hard at work rolling ‘nom pla aye’
Plus we got to use some pretty serious equipment in the kitchen (under the watchful eyes of the professionals of course) whilst wearing a chefs hat that was way to small for his rather large head 🙂
Paul using the big slicer
Paul happy he didn’t slice off a finger
One of the things we really loved was that we got to ask loads of questions, got some good cooking tips and got to take recipes home with us (to be shared with you at some stage soon).
All in all, we loved our cruelty-free, plant-based cooking extravaganza and think we might even be better cooks after it too – a big thank you to chef Chanrith and the Shinta Mani team for looking after us and sharing their tricks of the trade and the secrets of how to cook Cambodian vegan food.
Thank you chef!
Plus, we got to eat the fruits (and vegetables) of our labour, which of course was one of the best things about the day!
Simple, fresh avocado mousse with beetroot
So happy we know how to make these fresh spring rolls now
‘Lort cha’ are short rice noodles in a spicy, rich sauce
We made this delicious ‘Root Vegetable Kari’ with our kroeung curry paste
Our finished ‘nom play aye’ ready to be eaten
Which recipe would you like to see first? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll share what we learnt with you so you can enjoy your very own vegan Cambodian food heaven.
The cooking class at Shinta Mani costs $90++ for 2 people (including getting to eat everything you have made for lunch) and be sure to tell them you are vegan when you are booking it.