Cambodian Coconut Poached Petrale (Amok Trei)


Amanda Gladics, adapted from a recipe by Thanivan Srey So

Ingredients Part 1

Spice paste (Kreung)

  • 3 Tbsp lemongrass, finely ground
  • 3 Tbsp shallots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh galangal root, finely chopped (substitute 1 teaspoons galangal powder, if unable to find fresh)
  • 1 tsp mild to medium ground chili powder (e.g. Gochujaru, or Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 Tbsp mild Guajillo chili pepper powder (for color)
  • 3 leaves makrut (kaffir) lime, thinly sliced (reserve 1 leaf for assembly)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

Coconut Sauce (Amok)

  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce (according to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp mushroom seasoning (if unable to find, increase salt to ½ tsp)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 whole cayenne pepper (optional, can substitute 1 tsp mild red chili powder lower spice level is desired)
  • 1 can coconut milk (reserve 2-3 Tbsp)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

Fish (Trei)

  • 1 lb Petrale sole fillets. Pin bones carefully removed and cut into 1 inch cubes, or sliced into 1/2 inch thick strips. Rockfish also works well.


Spice Paste (Kreung)

  • Process all ingredients for the spice paste in a food processor or coffee grinder until well ground. It should form a moist paste, somewhat similar to Thai curry paste.

Coconut Sauce (Amok) and Fish (Trei)

  • Mix together the processed spice paste with the fish sauce, palm sugar, mushroom seasoning, salt, and shrimp paste in a medium bowl. 
  • Add coconut milk and beaten egg yolk to the mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Add cubed fish and stir.

Ingredients Part 2


    • ~10-15 Chinese broccoli leaves, parboiled. You can substitute any other hardy green (kale, chard, beet greens, etc.)
    • 2-3 Tbsp reserved coconut milk
    • 1 leaf makrut (kaffir lime) leaf, thinly sliced
    • 1 tsp white flour

    Garnish and Serve

    • 1 green onion, sliced or diced sweet red pepper
    • Jasmine rice, rinsed and cooked
    • Sliced raw vegetables, like cucumber and carrot

    Instructions Part 2

    Assemble and Steam

    • Line a medium heatproof bowl (pyrex works well) or ½ pint wide mouth jars (individual servings) with Chinese broccoli leaves.
    • Spoon the coconut sauce and fish mixture over the leaves.
    • Mix the flour with reserved coconut milk and drizzle over top.
    • Sprinkle the sliced makrut (kaffir) lime leaf over top.
    • Steam in a large steamer for about 20 minutes. The dish is done when the fish will flake easily. The sauce thickens slightly, but will remain fairly liquid.

    Garnish and Serve

    • Top with sliced green onion or sweet red pepper
    • Serve with jasmine rice and sliced, fresh vegetables for dipping

    Pro tips

    • Your local Asian grocery store will likely have all of the ingredients for the spice mix and coconut sauce in stock.
    • The spice paste in this recipe requires some unique ingredients, but can be used in a variety of Cambodian soups and stir fries. It also freezes well, so if you make a larger batch and have it on hand, this dish comes together very quickly. If you make a large batch, use about 8 Tbsp processed spice paste for this recipe.