Catfish Amok

Fish amok steamed in banana leaf is widely cooked for holidays and is one of Cambodia’s most famous dishes.

By / Photography By Dennis Ho | November 10, 2016


Marinate fish:
In a large bowl, mix together kroeung paste, ¾ cup coconut milk, fish sauce, prahok, egg and salt. Add the fish and combine well. Set aside and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

To prepare banana leaf bowls:
While fish is marinating, wipe each banana leaf with a wet cloth. Using a pair of tongs, hold each leaf over a hot flame until leaf changes in color and becomes glossy and pliable. Make 4 banana leaf bowls by stacking 2 banana leaves on top of each other and folding into little rectangular bowls, holding the sides together with toothpicks.

To assemble amok:
Make a bed of Chinese broccoli in the bottom of each banana leaf bowl. Divide the fish and marinade among the bowls on top of the broccoli. Spoon remaining ½ cup coconut milk on top of fish, dividing equally among the 4 bowls. Top with kaffir lime leaves and red bell pepper slivers.

To cook amok:
Assemble steamer by filling a wok or large saucepan to just under the level of a bamboo or metal steamer rack. Bring water to a boil. Place the filled amoks in the steamer, cover tightly and steam 20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through. Serve with steamed rice.

*Find the Kroeung (Khmer Curry Paste) recipe here.



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  • 1/2 recipe kroeung (Khmer spice and herb paste)*
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, plus another ½ cup for garnish
  • 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prahok (crushed, salted and fermented fish paste)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds catfish, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 banana leaves
  • 1 bunch Chinese broccoli (can substitute collard greens, spinach or kale)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, finely julienned
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely julienned
  • Steamed rice, to serve
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