Khor Sach Ko, a slow-cooked Khmer stew, is a hearty beef and noodle dish. It has surprisingly complex flavors for such unpretentious, homely food. The dish, prepared for a staff dinner at Romdeng restaurant in Phnom Penh, is just one of the meals I enjoyed at the restaurant during my stay in Cambodia—it’s food I’ll be preparing at home.

The flavor notes? A tomato-enriched sauce developed around stir-fried whole shallots and cloves of garlic; big chunks of onion and fire-roasted galangal (with the roasty bits still on); crushed lemongrass stalks; kaffir lime leaves; and mild chili paste, hand-pounded.
The stew is usually served over noodles or with bread, and topped with a mix of herbs. The finished bowl features spinach and salad leaves, Thai basil, “rice paddy herb”, and slivers of spring onion. I can see why Cambodians call this comfort food!

When I volunteered for an afternoon of cooking with the Romdeng staff last week, this was the meal we made for 36 staff members, using six kilos of beef. That’s quite a bit heftier than the amounts I’m accustomed to preparing.

Kor Sach Ko is one of CNN’s Cambodian foods every visitor needs to try, at least once!

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