Birthday kan Padaba (Mahal) Ko

After several weeks of being busy with the international women’s conference that I helped organise, I am finally free and back to my normal routine. I was relieved when the last of the participants left Phnom Penh on Nov 25, coinciding with my husband’s birthday. After sending them off, I didn’t waste time and immediately sprung into action and planned a simple dinner.

For our food, I decided to prepare my husband’s favourite. Nothing fancy, just his favourite samlor kari saramann, nom pang (local version of French baguette), and beer. In my mind, I was also debating whether I should bake or buy a birthday cake instead.

Cooking samlor kari saramann is a story in itself. It was easy to make as the recipe I used was taken from the cookbook that my husband bought for me months ago. However, selecting and preparing the ingredients for the curry paste is quite tedious. First in my to do-list was to get fresh ingredients from the market. Although I live in Tuol Sangkeo, Psah Boeungkengkang, for me, was the place to go. There, an array of fresh herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, coriander, ginger, garlic, shallots, chilli, and anise seed, greeted me. There were so many to choose from! I’m glad one ming (older woman) helped me out with my choices. Once the ingredients were selected and washed, these were pounded one after another to make a perfect curry paste. This task, I learned, required the strength of Wonder Woman to endure more than an hour of pounding in order to achieve the ideal consistency. I used a mortar and pestle made of stone, the one I ‘inherited’ from a Nepali friend who left Cambodia years ago. It’s really heavy, so you can imagine my ordeal. But, as I said, I love doing this so I went about the task merrily.

Originally, the recipe requires beef, but I substituted it with pork when I came home and found out there was no more beef in our fridge. Also, I added potatoes and string beans which are not in the original recipe just to add something filling in it.

After an hour or so of boiling and boiling… here’s the result of my labor of love…


After a hard day’s work, my husband came home and feasted on a steaming bowl of samlor kari saramann. Rich, savoury, spicy and creamy…

This dish is very popular especially at Cham (Khmer Muslim) and Buddhist weddings in Cambodia, served with either rice or nompang. Old folks, especially our landlady’s mum-in-law, told me that this dish tastes even better when served the next day.

Initially I was planning to bake a cake for dessert, but I thought that with the pounding and stirring of the kari dish, I wouldn’t have enough strength to do so. Against my better judgement, I bought a double-choco cake at Lucky’s. Bad move. It was dry and forgettable. I knew I should’ve made my own carrot cake topped with the special frosting that I successfully invented months ago. There’s always another time, my husband chirped. There goes my dear husband again… never demanding, always understanding. How lucky am I to have a husband who appreciates my efforts, especially in cooking! *lol*

Sure, the birthday dinner was nothing jaw-dropping or something, as some of you might be saying now. But hey, after being busy (especially me) and spending very little time with each other during those frantic weeks, the simple dinner was our ‘reunion of sorts’. It gave us back the missing closeness and connection making the night more memorable. It is certainly the kind of stuff we want to be included in our good times list.

Again, happy birthday, Mahal 🙂

I made this!

My husband loves pork chop very much that it is served every week at home. They are tasty on their own, but I have to say that they’re even tastier when they are marinated before cooking. Soaking the pork in basic marinade such as soy sauce, lemon, and sugar, gives a better flavor to the meat.

I have to admit though that it gets boring after a while making the same pork chop over and over again. It challenged me so much that I scoured the Net for more ideas and, luckily, I stumbled upon this exciting recipe (and bookmarked it), white-peppered pork slices, from the Cooking Ninja.

I tried it not long ago and I am happy to say that my husband loved it! In fact, he asks for it every week 🙂 So I paid another visit to the Cooking Ninja to tell her how we love her recipe and to ask if she would allow me to post her recipe here. I’m glad that she gave her go-signal … big, big thanks!

Ingredients

* Pork (cut into big slices)
* Ground white pepper
* Black soya sauce
* Potato flour or cornflour
* a bit of sugar
* oil (for frying)

Directions

1. Tenderize the pork slices.
2. Coat the slices with ground white pepper (to your desired amount).
3. Add some dark soya sauce, and a little bit of sugar on it and marinate them well with your hands.
4. Then sprinkle some potato flour on it and mix them well.
5. Heat up some oil in a frying pan or wok till hot, fry the marinated pieces for a few minutes or until cooked. Then drain it on paper towel.
6. Serve it while hot. Can be taken as part of the main dishes.

Cooking Ninja’s original recipe didn’t include minced garlic but we at home love garlic so much I had to add it in. I marinated it overnight and the result – a succulent, sweet, garlicky flavor. It did remind me of tocino, the sweetened cured pork native to the Philippines, but the white-peppered pork is spicier (superb) and more flavourful. For my husband, I served it with chips (french fries to our American friends) – it was an instant hit – while I prefer mine with steamed rice and a side dish of sliced tomatoes and cucumber.

Again, many thanks to the Cooking Ninja for sharing me her recipe (and the photo above) and for letting me share it to others through my blog. For more exciting recipes, visit the Cooking Ninja’s blog.