Paprika Coconut Minced Pork & Crispy Rice Cakes
This is a rather special Khmer dish which is popular as a snack amongst urban people. ‘Nataing’ is a savoury paprika coconut pork paste served as a topping for puffed ‘Bai kdaing’ – crispy rice cakes.
However, some Khmer people still prefer it the simpler way. They top the rice cakes with spring onion sauce ‘Tik trei sleuk ktim’ or 'spring onion sauce' instead. This is called ‘Bai Kdaing Srok Srè’ or 'countryside crispy rice cakes'.
When I was very young, I remember eating ‘bai kdaing’ as sweet snack which our grand-mother made for us. This consisted of crispy rice cakes drizzled with caramelised palm sugar. I wonder if topping crispy rice cake with chocolate sauce would work.
This reminds me of the 'Gordon's Great Escape' - a famous British chef TV serial. He went to a jungle in Cambodia and learned how to make Khmer roasted sticky rice with honey cakes. He was so impressd with the taste and look of the cakes that he compared it to the 'Ferrero Rocher' chocolate. Let's see how the Khmer jungle's Ferrero rocher is made.
Oil 2 Tbsp
Crispy Rice Cakes or sliced toasted French baguette
1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat until very hot. Fry the pork, tomato puree (jf using) and paprika for about 2 minutes ensuring that the meat is broken apart. Then add the garlic, shallot, salt and tamarind juice/cider vinegar and mix well, and continue to fry for about 3 minutes.
2. Then add the coconut cream and peanuts, and season with fish sauce and sugar. Continue simmering uncovered on low heat for a further 10-12 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a bowl and serve with crispy rice cakes. To serve, take a rice cake (or a slice of toasted baguette) and top it with a few teaspoons of ‘Nataing’, squeeze a few drops of lime over and enjoy. Some like it with “Mixed Vegetable Pickle”.
* Making crispy rice cakes can be time-consuming. I normally make them beforehand and store them in an air-tight container kept at room temperature. They typically last up to a week without affecting the texture and taste.
* If short of time, you can serve ‘Nataing’ with quickly surface fried slices of French baguette instead. Heat a few tablespoons of oil until the blue smoke rises, drop in the bread slice, count until 3, turn it over, count to 3 and take it out to drain on kitchen paper. It should be light golden.
‘Nataing’ can be frozen for two months without affecting the taste and texture.