Cambodian-born Bernie (Bunnath) and his wife Ivy are the owners of the Gold Coast’s only Cambodian restaurant, Bunnath Kitchen, where they serve traditional Khmer dishes, modernised just a little for the Australian palate.
The distinctly exotic flavours and aroma of lemongrass, turmeric and other herbs hand-pounded into a paste known as ‘kreoung’ distinguishes Khmer dishes from those of neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
There are many variations of kreoung, including the one used in the recipe below for Cambodian ‘Karri Mouan’, Cambodian chicken and vegetable curry. Enjoy, or visit Bunnath Kitchen where Bernie will prepare the dish for you.
2 stalk lemongrass
1/2 cup of fresh shallots (chopped finely)
5cm fresh galangal
5cm fresh turmeric
5cm fresh ginger
5 kaffir lime leave
5 fresh red chilli (optional – more or less to taste)
1 tbsp sweet paprika
5 cloves of garlic
3 dried chillies (soaked overnight)
1/2 tsp of salt
500g chicken thigh fillet (cut into 2cm cubes)
200g snake bean (cut into 3cm lengths)
4 shallots (peeled and quartered)
1 medium carrot (quartered and cut into 2cm lengths)
1 medium Hawaiian sweet potato (cut into 2cm cubes)
800ml coconut milk
6 small crispy eggplant (cut into half)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp palm sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon basil
Kreoung can be prepared ahead and stored in refrigerator. Finely chop all the kreoung ingredients (the finer it’s chopped the easier it is to pound), put into a mortar and pestle and pound the kreoung until it becomes a fine paste.
In a large heavy pot, pour in 400ml of coconut milk and add all the kreoung paste. Cook on low to medium heat and stir for 15 – 20 minutes until thick with fragrant. Add 800ml water, chicken, shallots and carrot, and bring to the boil for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the other 400ml coconut milk. Bring to the boil and reduce heat. Simmer the curry for 10 minutes and add salt and palm sugar to taste.
Khmer red chicken can be enjoyed with fragrant jasmine steamed rice, fresh crusty bread or vermicelli noodles.
Find Bunnath Kitchen at 13/44 Commerce Drive, Robina Ph: 07 5562 0707
Open for Lunch Thurs to Sun 11am – 2:30pm; Dinner Tues to Sun 5pm – 9pm Closed Monday.
NOTE: This article was published in The Sun on 8 August 2018.