This article was originally submitted to BookMeBus in the hopes that we would get one free ticket to take the mail van back to catch our flight to Luang Prabang in Siem Reap. It’s a short commentary on our cooking class adventure on August 10th in Battambang.
Yes, we did receive the full list of receipes for our cooking adventure. It’s totally worth the experience. There are a ton of cooking schools in Battambang that work on commission through hotels/tuk tuk drivers to get tourist students to large classes. Our class was limited to 8; however, Jo and I were lucky because we had a private class for the two of us. I can’t really see this experience with twenty people. It would be probably similar to the twenty people art class that I took in June that was awesome, but I really spent the time laughing, chatting, and doing my own thing. A private class for 10 USD where the money goes directly to the family who runs the restaurant is good for me.
Three hours, four dishes, multiple stories and memories
My friend and I were treated to a delightful morning at Coconut Lyly’s in Battambang learning the basics of Cambodian cooking, cuisine, and culture.
Taking a cooking class was one of the items I researched when preparing for my trip to Cambodia from Canada. The area that I live in Canada has a multitude of South East Asian cuisine, but not a great deal of Cambodian dishes. After spending a week in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, consuming as much Cambodian cuisine as possible, I was excited to spend the morning learning the basics.
Coconut Lyly is at the centre of Battambang - Cambodian’s second largest city that has a cool arts and culture scene. Upon arrival, my friend and I picked our four dishes to prepare from a recipe book. We decided upon spring rolls, chicken amok, green mango salads, and Coconut Lyly’s signature coconut dessert. Within seconds of deciding, it was off to the market to pick out our ingredients.
At the market, Lyly (who is a trained chef from Siem Reap) walked us through different fruits, vegetables, meat options and helped us pick out the ingredients for our lemongrass paste. We were “not going to be lazy today” and make our own lemongrass paste for the chicken amok. He also gave us fair warning about behaviour in the market, which included not standing in the aisles or hovering too long over a stall. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was tapped on the upper leg by a fellow Cambodian shopper trying to get through to one of the fruit sellers. It was harmless but unexpected. Shopping means business in Cambodia!
One of the coolest market discoveries was buying coconut milk. The coconut goes into a machine to create this fine powder and milk is collected. Pure coconut milk is the most delicious thing in the world!
After our market adventure, we went back and prepared our dishes. Lyly explained all of the ingredients, the proper cutting/preparation methods, and how to perfect a spring roll. After spending an hour preparing/chatting about Cambodian life, the education system, living and working Cambodia, our food was ready to cook. I quite enjoyed our food preparation session as I gained great insight into Cambodian life, the value of family, and the importance of work ethic!
The flavours of the meal were complementary and out of this world. We felt accomplished, satisfied, and ready to go explore the art galleries and public art spaces that Battambang has to offer.
Overall, we would highly recommend this experience. Ten USD (writing as of August 11, 2017) gets you a four course meal, full receipe booklet, and an unforgettable experience.