Families eating together is very important. Numerous studies have been conducted that talk about just how important to growing children. But for our family, meals don’t always happen around a table.
The first time I met Proeun’s family they didn’t even have a table in their house. Instead the family would eat gathered around mats on the floor. I was prepped ahead of time saying that I must never sit higher then his parents and that it was polite to sit on the floor to eat. About halfway through the meal my legs hurt so bad I could hardly stand it. I was still hungry but I knew the only polite way to sit in a chair was to finish eating. So I did. I have come a long way since then and a couple times a month we will have traditional Cambodian meals on the floor. Our mats are former rice sacks cut open to lie flat.
This dish is one of my favorites–Yeh Hanh. We aren’t really sure how to spell it in English but are doing our best to write it phonetically. The dish consists of a seasoned coconut broth which is put in a hot pot and various greens and meats added to the broth to cook to taste. It can be as elaborate or simple as you want. One time last year we took a bunch of greens from our CSA and went up north camping. We did pretty much the same thing over the fire. We had chard and spinach and bok choy it was wonderful.
For last night’s meal we went simple with pea tips, cilantro and green onion. We had a little eggplant left over from another meal so we added small dices of that. For meat we used sliced beef and beef meatball. Veggie options include mock duck (I like soy curls from Country Life) diced tofu or just eat the veggies. My in-laws love shrimp in it.
I like to top it with peanuts. Here is Avril using our mortar and pestle to grind them right before the meal.
To make the Broth
8-10 cups broth. I like to use water and add my chicken style seasoning at a rate of 1 tsp. per cup
Tom Yum paste–can find this at a local Asian store or Asian section at your market. I normally look for vegetarian. Each brand is different so follow the directions for adding to the water. I think it is normally 1 Tbsp for 3 cups.
1 can coconut milk
3 Tbsps sugar, more if you like it sweeter.
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsps fish sauce, also from the Asian storee.
Combine all this in a pot on the stove and heat. When hot you can add it to the hot pot. Meanwhile cut the meat or meat substitute and wash the veggies. Add greens and meat to the pot and cook until done. Use a hand held strainer to ge them out and a ladle to spoon the broth. Eat over rice or rice stick noodle. Top with peanuts.This is one of the children’s favorites. They love having a picnic. But be careful because they will want to help themselves to the pot. It is a good rite of passage for them though.