Beef Lok Lak – Cambodian Recipe: London’s A to Z
One of the things that fascinates me about food is the social, political and environmental history one is able to gain from studying simple recipes. And this classic Cambodian beef dish, Lok Lak, is a perfect example.
Before the French colonized Cambodia as part of their Indochinese colony in the 1870’s there is little evidence that the Khmer people ate beef. As famed rice growers and fresh water fishermen, there was already plenty to choose from and the only meat in their diet would have come from hunting animals such as deer and wild pig. Cattle were far to valuable to this agricultural society as tractors and modes of transports to be eaten, and thus the cow was and still is held in high regard in Khmer folk law.
But when an invading European power comes onto the scene with a lust for home comforts things are bound to change. As happened in Vietnam the arrival of the French in the later half of the 19th century. Not only did the colonists trigger a demand for French bread (Bhaan Mi – foreign bread) but also demand for beef. This new demand meant cattle were soon being bred for the table and with most of the fine cuts sold at market the lesser cuts and bones were kept at home.
In Vietnam this bovine introduction led to the birth of ‘Pho’. A noodle soup of rich beef stock, not dissimilar to the French ‘Pot eu Fo’, that is garnished with fresh herbs, boiled off cuts and tripe that is now the national dish of Vietnam.
In Cambodia they developed Beef Lok Lak, a far more luxurious dish than the neighboring Pho. Made with diced beef it was cooked in that most wonderful of French creations, butter and garnished with a citrus and pepper dip.
Here is a simple recipe you can try at home.
150g sirloin of flank steak cut into 2cm cubes
For the marinade:
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- two tablespoons are a mix of soy and fish sauce, or just fish sauce, thickened with corn flour.
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 3 good cubes of salted butter
- 1 onion
- 1 large tomatoe
For the Cambodian Pepper Dipping Sauce
- 1 tsp crushed black pepper
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tsp lime juice
1. Marinate the beef in the garlic, soy and cracked salt for two hours and perhaps a little more if you are using a flank steak.
2. Slice the onion and tomatoes and spread in a single layer on a large serving dish..
3. Add your butter to a wok, and heat until it simmers but be very careful not to burn it! As its starts to froth violently at the edges pour in the beef with the marinade. Stir-fry for a couple on minutes until it starts to brown.
4. While the beef is cooking, quickly put together your dipping sauce. This will not take a minute. Add the salt and pepper to a shallow ramekin and squeeze in the juice form one lime, making sure to catch the pips.
5. Now add the brown sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce to the brown beef, mix through and spoon onto the onion and tomato on your serving plate.
6. Serve in the center of the table and let people pick out he succulent chunks of beef with chopsticks, briefly dipping them into the dipping sauce before devouring.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 08:15 and is filed under A to Z of London Food, Cambodian Recipes, Wheel of Approval, World Cycling, World Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.