Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cambodian Cha Kroeung aka Cambodian beef curry stir fry recipe

This staple Cambodian beef stir fry dish is one of the Mo's favorite dishes.

When we first got together, he kept telling me that my version was different than his mom's.  Who can compete with a mother's cooking? It wasn't red enough or it it lacked flavor, and so I was told.  A decade later, I think I've nailed the recipe or at least ... he got used to mine.

This recipe is semi-homemade.  I say "semi" because I didn't actually make one of the main ingredients, the "Kroeung" curry itself.  The Cambodian curry staple mixture is made from love
and given to us in frozen packages from my mother or the Mo's parents.  The curry paste is a blend of lemon grass stalk, garlic, galangal, kaffir leaves, Thai red chilies and tumeric.

Every family has their own recipe and makes it differently.  Our parents make large batches and gives us frozen pouches a couple times a year and we store it in the freezer until we need it.  Although I do know how to make the curry paste, I'm happy to accept charity donations.

This is my recipe for cha kroeung and of course it will be different from other families. I've seen people add coconut milk or starch to thicken up the sauce.  I prefer it as a dry stir fry.

  • 1 pound of sliced beef ( I prefer shaved steak, like the one you would used in steak and cheese)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into large chunks
  • 1 red onion, sliced into large chunks
  • 5 tablespoons of "Groeung" Cambodian curry paste
  • a handful of holy basil "Maras Pros" herb
  • 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • fish sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fried garlic
  • salt
  • 4 sliced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of fine red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of MSG (optional)
Heat up a large wok or frying pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and sear the vegetables including the peppers.  This is optional but I prefer the vegetables to be charred and maintain its shape instead of turning into a soggy mess later.  Remove the vegetables from the pan.

Heat the same pan with the remaining oil and add the sugar.  Let the sugar caramelize then add sliced or shaved beef.  Add the kroeung curry paste oyster sauce, fish sauce, fried garlic and optional MSG and red chili powder.

 Once the meat browns, add the vegetables to the pan along with the holy basil "Maras pros" Southeast Asian herb.

Serve with white rice and other Cambodian dishes.

We had a Cambodian feast.

Prahok Ka ti, Cambodian pork curry
Sir fry Chinese broccoli and in garlic sauce
Roasted cilantro and sriracha wings