Angkor Wat

angkor_wat
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Num Lom-orng Chek
Caramelised Coconut Parcel

 
num lum-orng cheik
Num Lom-orng Chek

scenery - Num Lom-orng Chek - step 1 - thumbnail
Step 1

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Step 2

 scenery - Num Lom-orng Chek - step 3 - thumbnail
Step 3

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Step 4

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Step 5

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Num Lom-orng Chek
Caramelised Coconut Parcel

 

 

 

When I was young, this snack was on sale outside most Cambodian primary schools. On their breaks, the kids would come out and buy it at the school gate. I remember liking it so much that I bought it almost every day with my pocket money. At the sight of me, the vendor would smile, wrap one cake in a banana leaf and hand to me before I could say a word. On my recent trip to Boston (USA), to my pleasant surprise, I saw this cake on sale in a supermarket – a Cambodian one, of course. For me, this snack tastes better than a Bounty chocolate bar.

Yields 6-8 cakes

Ingredients

Caramelised grated coconut (see recipe) 3 cups – for filling
Sticky Rice flour1 2 cups/240g/8¾ oz
Water 2-3 Tbsp (enough to moisten the flour)
Liquid food colouring – optional (add a few drops of the colour of your choice to the water above)

A heavy bottomed wok (if unavailable, use a flat griddle pan with very low sides)
A metal sieve
A spatula

Method

Preparing the flour:
Place the flour in a mixing bowl, add a few teaspoons of water and use your hands to knead into the flour. Gradually add more water and continue kneading until you obtain the consistency of moist sand (which is moist to touch but the grains are still separated). You may have to vary the amount of water depending on the type of flour.

Cooking the cake:

1. Heat a wok (or a low-sided flat griddle pan) over a medium low heat until hot. Add 3 tablespoons of moist flour into the sieve and hold it over the wok. Use your fingers on the flour, and move in a circular motion so that it drops down evenly onto the wok to form a circle of about 18cm/7in. (photo 1).

2. Cover and leave to cook for 30 seconds and then uncover. Place 2 tablespoons of coconut stuffing on the right side about 5cm/2 in. from the right edge of the cake. Use the spoon to spread it into a rectangular shape of about 10cm x 4cm (4in x 2in) (photo 2).

3. The cake edges should start to curl up – if not, use the spatula to help ease them up before wrapping the cake over the filling to make a parcel*. This can be done by first lifting the right edge over to cover the filling (photo 3).

4. Then fold over the two side edges (photo 4).

5. Finally, use the spatula to lift the cake and fold it over once or twice to form a parcel (photo 5). Remove immediately to a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining flour2 and filling. Serve hot or cold as a snack.

These cakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room-temperature.

*Some like to leave the cake open-ended by skipping step 4. (top photo).

Tips

1 If sticky rice flour is not available, then use sticky rice instead. Soak it in water for an hour. Then wash, drain, and use a pestle and mortar to pound (and sieve) the wet sticky rice to obtain flour that is moist (use a food processor, if preferred). Then follow the ‘Cooking the cake’ step.

2 You may have to refresh the flour with a few drops of water as it may dry out.

Did you know …

This cake is an imitation of the pollen from the ‘Rum-chek’flower.   Rum-chek(Pandanus martelli, in Latin) is a type of plant which has many uses in Cambodia. Due to their ragged long leaves, rural people grow them around their house as hedges; their leaves are also made into ropes and mats; and a concoction of their roots is said to be a cure for venereal diseases. However, it rarely ever flowers. If it does, once in a blue moon, the flower gives out a strikingly delicious aroma. In order to preserve its lovely scent for future use, the pollen is shaken off the flower onto a clean flat tray (and is bottled up when dried). The round shape formed by the pollen on the tray looks similar to that of the flour shaken into the wok during the making of this cake. As a result, this cake is named after the plant ‘Rum-chek pollen cake’ which is eventually shortened to ‘Chek pollen cake’ which in Khmer is ‘Num lom-orng cheik’.

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