By: H.P. Raingsy. Picture by: Nathan Dexter. ( November, 2001 Volume 1 No.6 )

H'mok is a particularly succulent Cambodian curry of a firm but moist consistency. It differs from most curries in that it is steamed, usually in banana leaf. Although traditionally a fish curry, h'mok can be made from just about any meat and variations include pork, crab, shrimp, and even snails steamed in their shells. The sometimes difficult to find sleuk nhor leaves (morinda citrifolia) are sometimes substituted by cabbage.


Sach (Meat). For fish h'mok, the best kind to use is trei rah, trei andeng or any firm-fleshed, meaty fish.
Any meat or seafood may also be substituted.
Porng tea (egg, beaten)
Kroeung (Spice Paste)
Ktih daung dambong (coconut cream)
Ktih daung (coconut milk)
Mteh kriem (dried red chillies, soaked, drained and minced)
Kul sleuk krey (lemon grass stalk, chopped into tiny slices)
Rumdeng (galangal), cut small and fried until aromatic
Romiet (tumeric) sliced
Kcheay (or by its Latin name, amomum zingiber, a kind of thin, finger-like ginger), finely diced and fried until aromatic
Leaves of krauch seuch (Kaffir lime), thinly sliced
Rind of krauch seuch, sliced
Sandek-dei (peanut), roasted
Kaapi (shrimp paste), fried until aromatic
Ktim sar (cloves of garlic)
Young leaves of sleuk kantuort (cicca nodiflora, a species of tree which bears a type of small, sour fruit);
Young sleuk nhor leaves (morinda citrifolia)
Mteh Ploak (capsicum or red or green pepper)
Teuk trei (fish sauce)
Skar (sugar)
Ambel (salt)
Other seasonal vegetables may also be added or substituted, depending on taste, including spey kdoab (cabbage), l'peov (pumpkin), or trav (taro)

To make banana leaf cups First, clean banana leaves with a damp, clean cloth. Dip leaves into boiling water just long enough to become pliable, but not too long or they will become brittle and crack while being shaped. Cut banana leaves into a circle, 25cm in diameter. Put two pieces together to make double thickness a single leaf is not strong enough to contain the mixture during steaming. Mark a square in the middle. This will be the bottom of the cup. Place your thumb at one corner of the square and pull up two sides of the leaves. Tuck in the fold, and pin together with a tiny bamboo stick or toothpick. Repeat with the next corner. Continue doing this until all the four sides of the cup are held and fixed together. Preparation and Cooking Wash fish or meat and chop. The trei rah or trei andeng should be cut into large, thin slices. Set aside in a bamboo basket to drain. Make the kroeung by grinding lemon grass stalk, tumeric, kcheay, rumdeng, garlic cloves, dried chilli, the rind and leaves of the krauch seuch, peanuts and kaapi together in a mortar and pestle. Stir the kroeung into a cup of coconut milk, and stir until dissolved. Add the beaten egg, fish sauce, salt, sugar and sliced fish or other meat, being sure not to make the mixture too salty. Add the remaining coconut milk and mix well. Place the nhor or kantuot leaves on the bottom of the banana cups, then fill three-quarters full with the coconut mixture. Top each cup with the coconut cream, thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves (krauch seuch) and red pepper

Snail Meat H'mok

A regional method of serving h'mok is with the meat of the kchorng srer, an edible snail found in rice fields. To make this, follow the recipe above, substituting snail meat for fish after removing the snails from their shells. Reserve shells.

To serve

Soak shells overnight to ensure they are completely clean. Wash thoroughly. Cut banana leaves into long strips. Hold the two ends of the strips together and push the loop end inside the snail shell. Spoon in the snail and coconut mixture. Steam the filled shells for about 20 minutes. To eat, gently pull the ends of the banana leaf and lift the curry out of the snail shell. Enjoy your meal of h'mok, a justly famous traditional dish of Cambodia.