for Doctor Abigail
MARCH RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Lime marinated beef salad. Served on a banana leaf to save on the washing up. For those with an eating disorder (i.e. vegetarians) this recipe is simply ideal. It's so easy to spot the meat - that'll be the red stuff - and push it to one side to create a luscious peanut salad. And it's as close to a vegetarian meal as anything you're likely to find in Cambodia.
Allow 30-40 minutes for marinating and then a minute or two to simply toss together, like two homos in a tryst.
200g beef (or kangaroo if you are in the lucky country) sliced thinly
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly
1 chilli, sliced thinly
100g bean sprouts
50g roasted ground peanuts
1 clove garlic
juice of 3 limes
palm sugar, salt and fish sauce to taste
mint and basil, roughly shredded
4 leaves saw mint, sawed into 1cm pieces
Forget the wine. This is the tropics. Try some French Baïta rhum and ginger cordial with a slice of lime over ice. Get a couple of these going while you put some vinyl on the stereo. I recommend Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band's 1969 classic Trout Mask Replica.
Slaughter a bullock. Procure the rest of the ingredients from the market, and take a ride home through the narrow streets in a cyclo, soaking up the smells of the street stalls and the fresh tropical rains.
Combine the lime juice, lemongrass, garlic, saw mint and chilli to create a marinade. Season with salt, sugar and fish sauce to taste. Having created the marinade, congratulate yourself by mixing another ginger rhum. Or two. Put the beef in the marinade and leave it for 30 to 40 minutes. This, along with the washing up, is the easy part. Turn up the stereo and wander out onto the balcony, rhum cocktail in hand. See what's going on down there on the street, beneath the bougainvillea. Those Cambodians, what are they up to? And why don't they have a word for "vegetarian"? Hmm. Life's complexities are many. Too fucking many. Flop in the hammock and roll up some Cambodian red. Then let the lime juice marinade go to work work on the beef as the rhum and gunja goes to work on your brain.
After half an hour or so of cooking remotely from your hammock, wander, dazedly, back into the kitchen and flip the record. As the ceiling fan circles overhead, drain and squeeze the meat to remove all the juice. Toss with basil, mint, coarsely ground peanuts and bean sprouts. Serve it on the aforementioned banana leaves, on a rattan table on the terrace, topping up with ground peanut, basil and mint. Garnish with searing circles of chilli.
You realise the gunja has done its work properly as you tear into the fresca meat. The red Cambodian sun sinks at the edge of the street, down by Heart of Darkness bar, as the sounds of the tuk tuks and vendors float up from the street. Another long warm tropical night is in store. It might be a good night to get out on the streets, once the moon comes up. Maybe wander over to Fly for a blue margarita and a swim in the lap pool, or maybe even Sharky bar.
Or maybe roll up some more red.