Running amok: Cambodian-inspired curry

Cambodian curry prawn amok


I actually wanted to photograph this bowl empty, as it’s so very beautiful. My favourite-ist newlyweds in the whole wide world gave it to me, along with a fabulous selection of exotic ingredients (some of which are pictured) as a thank you for performing my matron-of-honourly duties. I have been desperate to show it off ever since.

But then, thought I, I’m more of a bowl-half-full person (well, full-to-brimming, if truth be told). So I shall appreciate it daily, and fill it with all sorts of goodies so you can appreciate it too.

This is a lazy, slightly adapted, version of Gordon Ramsay’s fish amok. To turn this into a proper amok you’d have to follow his instructions—and his ingredients list. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’m not the world’s greatest fish-lover. That is, I love fish but I don’t like to cook it in a small flat and I prefer to eat it by the ocean. But prawns are the exception. God, I love a prawn.

Serves: 6

1 pack king prawns (shrimp) – cooked or raw

1 pack of prawns (shrimp) – cooked or raw (I use these tiddlers to make up the volume as King prawns are pricey)

2 cans coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp palm sugar

Coriander (cilantro) to garnish

Vegetable oil for frying

Assorted vegetables (I used sugar snap peas, baby corn and a finely sliced carrot)

For the curry paste:

4 shallots, peeled and quartered

2 tsp turmeric

1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled

3 sticks lemon grass

6-7 kaffir lime leaves

2 tsp galangal paste

4 inches ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp shrimp paste

2 red chillies (seeds removed)

4 dried chillies

Whizz all the curry-paste ingredients in a blender. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a wok and flash fry the paste for less than a minute, stirring constantly so it doesn’t catch and burn. Pour in the coconut milk, then add the fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir and leave to simmer and thicken (approx 20 minutes).

If you are using raw prawns (if you’re anything like me, it just depends what’s on offer!), you’ll need to fry them separately. Add the cooked prawns to the curry sauce and leave to heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the vegetables, simmer for another two-three minutes and serve with rice or noodles and coriander to garnish. I like my veg crisp and crunchy for a nice contrast, but if you like yours soft, add with the prawns.

Thank you Mr and Mrs Smith – welcome home and I hope you had an incredible honeymoon!






  1. This looks great–I can almost smell the curry and coconut. As for the ingredients, galangal, shrimp paste, and kaffir lime leaves… looks like it’s internet shopping time, at least for folks in Boston. Nice dish. Ken

    • Thank you! Gosh, I always thought Boston was quite a big city – do you not have Asian supermarkets there? In my head it’s a bit like Cambridge (in England). In big, bad London you can source all those ingredients in a normal supermarket, so I am spoilt here!

      • We do, but my one source of kaffir lime leaves dried up awhile ago. Galangal, blue ginger does show up from time to time, but it’s a seasonal, specialty item. Shrimp paste used to be quite common, but I haven’t seen it in awhile. Don’t worry–I’ll make do. Ken

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