Khmer Chicken Samla with Coconut Milk

Posted By Stephen


This is one of the first Thai dishes I ever ate, cooked by Stephen’s sister. I really enjoyed it and they subsequently bought us the book they found the recipe in: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeremy Alford and Naomi Dugold. We’ve cooked it ourselves but neither of us remembered that until we started cooking.

Friday’s chicken kiev left us with two thighs and two legs; this coincided with the opening of a new, local Thai supermarket which we were both keen to visit. We bought the rest of the ingredients yesterday morning and Stephen spent a lot of time with the mortar and pestle when we got home!

I still like it as much as I did when I first had it, it’s described as being somewhere between a curry and a soup and I’d say that was a fairly accurate description. Making the paste is time consuming but the end result definitely benefits from it, I haven’t seen this kind of paste ready-made anyway.

Curry Paste
6-10 stalks lemongrass
2 small wedges wild lime, mostly peel
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh turmeric
Several pinches salt
3 tablespoons minced galangal
10-12 tiny mauve Asian shallots
10 medium to large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 Thai dried red chillies, soaked in warm water until softened
2 tablespoons shrimp paste

2 whole chicken legs, chopped into 3 pieces each
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups coconut milk, divided into 1 1/2 cups thinner milk and 1 1/2 cups thicker milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Remove tough outer skin from lemongrass and discard, slice lemongrass finely.
Place the lime and turmeric into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and pound to a paste.
Add a third of the lemongrass and contuinue pounding. Gradually add the rest of the lemongrass and continue to pound.
Add the shallots and garlic and continue to pound to a smooth paste.
Remove to a bowl.
Cut the chillies open, remove the seeds and pound in the mortar and pestle. Add to the lemongrass paste.

Spread the shrimp paste onto foil, fold into a parcel and place in a hot frying pan for 3-4 minutes. Add the toasted paste to the curry paste.

Heat up the wok, add oil and stir in the curry paste. Cook until fragrant and aromatic. Add the chicken pieces, coat in the paste and cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the thinner coconut milk, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes.

Add half of the thicker coconut milk, bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes half-covered. Add the remaining coconut milk and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until the chicken is tender.

Serve with rice.

Mar 2nd, 2009

6 Comments to 'Khmer Chicken Samla with Coconut Milk'

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  1. Lizzie said,

    I was just wondering what to do with the chicken legs I have in the fridge. This looks great!

    Lizzie’s last blog post..Rabbit in a Cream & Mustard Sauce

  2. gaile said,

    wow this looks fantastic! I can’t wait to try it!

    gaile’s last blog post..Resurfacing…briefly

  3. Stephen said,

    The recipe says that this “serves 5 as part of a rice meal”. We ate it between the two of us – just with a bit of rice, rather than as part of a whole meal. Hence, analysis of what we each ate in terms of ingredients is a bit scary: 2 dried red chillis, 1.5 tablespoons galangal, 6 shallots, 3 stalks lemongrass and 5 garlic cloves! Delicious though.

    PS Slices of left over wild lime make for a brilliant gin and tonic, giving it an unmistakeably Thai flavour.

  4. Mrs Ergül said,

    Oh even if you can find this ready-made, I’m sure it doesn’t taste close to the homemade ones! I haven’t eaten this before!

    Mrs Ergül’s last blog post..February Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Valentino Cake

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