This is a basic recipe for the Cambodian marinade paste called the Kroeung. There are many variations available, ranging from those for cooking specialist fish dishes and different meat dishes.
When preparing Cambodian food, work with this recipe as a start – the rich flavors will go well with whatever dish you are cooking. I used a pestle and mortar in this recipe to obtain a thick paste but it's fine to use a food processor, if that's easier. Add a few teaspoons of water if you find it difficult blending this mix properly.
- 3 stalks lemongrass thinly sliced (use only the bottom 3 inches of the stalk)
- 8 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 2 finely chopped shallots or 1 small finely chopped onion
- 1 oz peeled and finely chopped galangal
- 1 oz peeled and finely chopped fresh turmeric
- 4 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, with the hard ribs removed
- ½ tsp salt
- Grind all the ingredients to a paste. If you are using the pestle and mortar, start off with the hard to grind ingredients like the lemongrass, the kaffir lime leaves and the galangal.
- Add the rest of the ingredients one by one after the lemongrass, the lime leaves and the galangal have been sufficiently crushed.
- If you are using a food processor, put the easiest-to-grind ingredients in first. The liquid that forms will help to process the other harder-to-blend ingredients.
- This marinade paste will keep well in the fridge for about five days. Add some oil to the paste so that a thin layer of oil forms at the top to ensure its freshness.