from spiders to water lilies

spiders to water lilies cambodia cookbookSome of the richest real life experiences revolve around food, and where better than Cambodia to combine flavourful local experiences with exotic regional dishes.

Cambodian cuisine is often described as a mixture of Thai and Vietnamese – but don’t tell that to a Cambodian. They believe their cuisine is in a class of its own, and they’re right!

Highlighting the delicious delights of Cambodian cuisine is non-profit organisation Friends-International. We are thrilled to announce the launch of their second cookbook From Spiders To Water Lilies, now available on-line. It features over 160 pages of mouth-watering traditional recipes, (one of which we share with you here), plus exquisite photography and inspiring stories from one of Asia’s most fascinating countries.

Celebrating their fifth anniversary in 2010, Romdeng is Cambodia’s first social enterprise restaurant and has a serious social mission of getting young people off the streets and empowered through education, vocation training and ultimately employed to build a sustainable future. The restaurant is completely staffed by former street kids who do everything from design the menus, prepare and cook meals, wait tables, and even paint the artwork featured on the walls as well as sew the silk cushions for the chairs.

From Spiders To Water Lilies has recently won an award for ‘Best soft cover cookbook’ at the 2010 World Food Media Awards. For more information or to purchase a copy of Romdeng’s Cambodian cookbook, visit

Fish, Pumpkin and Coconut Curry
(Serves 4)

500ml coconut cream
2 tbsp chilli paste
8 tbsp lemongrass paste
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
600g fish fillets, cut into strips 1cm wide
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp Vietnamese curry powder
1/2 tsp star anise
1/2 tsp powdered coriander seed
2L fish for vegetable stock
600g pumpkin, cut into strips 1cm wide, blanched
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander, for garnish

In a pot, reduce 250ml of the coconut cream by half. Add chilli, lemongrass and shrimp pastes and fish sauce, and fry until fragrant.

Add fish and mix well. Add palm sugar, curry powder, star anise, coriander seed powder, stock and pumpkin and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes or until fish is cooked. Season with salt.

Remove pumpkin and fish from sauce. Blend sauce until smooth, pour back into pan and add remaining coconut cream. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Gently add back fish and pumpkin, Divide between 4 plates and garnish with coriander.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Georgia MacDonald / Reply

Loved Friends restaurant and gift shop bought the book from Spiders to Water Lillies cant wait to cook some of the beautiful receipies.'

Friends restaurant is FABULOUS. We ate there every night. The food is delicious, the prices reasonable and the staff are smiling and gracious.

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