Friday, July 19, 2013

Char Kroeung from Cambodia

Our around-the-world-cooking adventure has taken on lightening speed as I want to finish before our youngest goes off to university in September.  We just finished Thailand and are now in Cambodia (virtually speaking, of course).  I like to post these recipes so I have an easy resource to find them again (love that search feature down the sidebar!), but I was pleased when Donna from An Anglo in Quebec commented that she actually makes some of the international recipes too. Yay, for inspiration!

After a bit of research into Cambodian cuisine we decided to make Char Kroeung.  Kroeung is a distinctive spice blend that is used in many dishes in Cambodia.  I based my recipe on this one, but had to make some changes as I was not able to get all the same ingredients (no kaffir lime leaves available at the local grocery store here in Ontario) and I had to take the spiciness down a notch.

Here's the recipe.

For the kroeung paste:
2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed and thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed chili peppers
1/2 cup water

For the stir-fry:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
600 g beef or 600 g chicken (I used chicken), cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into wedges
Oher vegetable (optional)
1 red bell pepper, sliced (bell pepper) 
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, ground

1.  Blend all the kroeung paste ingredients in a bowl until smooth (the recipe calls for mixing them in a blender.  Since we don't have one we did try the mortar and pestle, but I'm not sure it did much).
2.  Add the meat to the kroeung paste and mix well.
3.  Heat the oil in large wok over medium heat. Add meat, stirring well until browned.
4.  Add fish sauce, sugar and salt and stir until the sauce is bubbling.
5.  Add the onion wedges and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the other vegetables if using and cook a few minutes.
6.  Add the red bell pepper and 6 tablespoons of roasted peanuts. Stir for another minute, then remove from heat.

Sprinkle with remaining peanuts and serve with rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce (we used spinach), and bean sprouts. The recipe also called for fresh mint, but we don't care for mint so I omitted this.

We loved this dish.  I say that frequently, I know, but I will definitely be making it again so that confirms my Char Kroeung love.

P.S.  I've seen this written as Cha Kroeung and Char Kroeung and I'm not sure which is correct (they both have close to the same number of Google hits so that doesn't clear it up either).  If anyone has been to Cambodia and knows which way to spell it, I would love to find out.


  1. Glad that I inspire you because truth be told you inspire me to step out of the oh so familiar box of cooking and try something new! I love using spices that I actually have but never seem to use. :) This summer has been more about the barbeque but it is fun for me to refer back to your blog to find recipes.

  2. I would love to come to your house for adventure eating! :D Well, I know I'd love the paste for this recipe. YUM! I haven't cooked hardly any meals these past couple of weeks with all the parties and eating out. I'll happily return to the kitchen next week!